An Okanagan woman is speaking out about her experience with the RCMP as a victim of domestic violence and an alleged inability to file an effective complaint to an independent body about the situation.
Kym Hay says she was assaulted on December 11, 2022 inside the home she shared with her accused attacker.
Kalyim Overton is facing charges of assault with a weapon and assault by choking, allegations that are scheduled for trial in January of 2024.
Hay was bruised and bloodied by the alleged attack, which also saw the inside of her home tossed in the process. A friend who rushed to her aid told Castanet it looked like the home was the scene of a robbery.
But as traumatic as the assault was, Hay said it was how the police responded that night that has impacted her the most, along with a loophole that blocks any independent oversight of the primary responding officer.
THE NIGHT OF THE ASSAULT
In an interview with Castanet, Hay says after she was attacked, she ran to a home next door where the police were called.
After receiving care from paramedics at the scene, she was brought by officers to the Lake Country RCMP detachment to provide a statement.
When she was driven home, she arrived to find three RCMP vehicles parked in front of her house. Her alleged attacker was still inside.
“They were calling his name. I was asked if he had a weapon, I said no,” Hay said, explaining the lead officer at the scene “made a comment” about permission to breach the front door.
“I vividly remember [the officer] hiking up his pants, booting the door twice and then shoulder checking it,” Hay said.
Mounties entered the home and the alleged attacker was removed and taken to the RCMP detachment to complete an undertaking, which included conditions to not contact Hay and not return to the home with the exception of gathering belongings while accompanied by an officer.
Officers then departed the home, leaving Hay alone with a broken and unsecured front door. Her alleged attacker was parked in his vehicle just down the street.
“I'm just sitting there and the house … was a warzone. I was battered. It was bad,” Hay said. “And I just stood there. And I was like, ‘I don't even know what to do.’”
Hay called a friend, Jesse Matlock, who came to the home that night after the police left. Matlock said on his way in, he saw Overton parked at the end of the driveway.
“The door had been kicked in. It literally looks like the place was burgled. And she had bruises all over,” Matlock said.
“And that’s when he started blowing up her phone. And it threw her for like a whirlwind because normally she’d pack quickly and get out of there,” Matlock said, but the front door of the home was kicked in and unsecured. She had pets that couldn’t be left in the home with no working front door.
For about three weeks afterwards, Hay says she used a bookshelf and piece of rope to secure the front door.
During a following 911 call to the home, Hay says the officer who kicked it in responded, and while there, took pictures of the door. Hay claims during that exchange, the Mountie told her to “do us all a favour and don’t date anytime soon.”
The door never ended up getting fixed. Hay said she walked away from her lease and left behind all her things.
“I lost most of what I owned,” she said.
Hay still does not understand why the RCMP left her at home with a broken door while her alleged attacker was nearby. She said the RCMP should have either fixed the door or moved her to a safe location.
“I was asked the question of what difference would it have made if the door was fixed,” she said.
“All the difference. Because at least I would have had a feeling, the knowledge that yes, he could still break it, but there would have been some sense of security.”
A partial police report of the night viewed by Castanet showed the officer was granted permission to breach the front door, something Hay disputes. She also questions why she would have been asked that question, as the victim of a violent crime, in the first place.
Hay alleges there were significant delays to police response for following domestic calls to the home, leading her to feel like she was on her own.
“It got to the point where I would have been dead," she said, explaining other individual officers voiced concern to her about the situation she was in.
Overton declined to comment on this story. The charges against him have not been proven in court.
The police officer who is alleged to have kicked in the door and arrested Overton, later releasing him with conditions, is reserve Const. David Caley, according to an undertaking document viewed by Castanet. He did not respond to an email requesting comment.
The BC RCMP has about 100 reserve constables across the province — mostly retired Mounties who work part time for the force. The BC RCMP says reserve constables are typically deployed for seasonal tasks like marine teams, or to specialized teams like forensics and traffic enforcement.
Some reserve members work more regular hours in operational roles and all have the powers of a regular RCMP officer.
Reserve officers are hired as federal contractors outside of the RCMP Act, and as a result, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) does not accept complaints involving them.
The CRCC was created in 1988 as an independent agency to review public complaints regarding the federal police force. A representative confirmed with Castanet that the commission will not accept complaints regarding reserve officers, despite the fact that they interact with the public in the same way as any other officer.
The B.C. Ministry of Public Safety says those who want to file a complaint about a reserve RCMP officer must deal with the RCMP directly.
“The RCMP recommends concerned citizens file a complaint with the detachment located where the incident took place,” the ministry said in a statement.
Hay said she tried to elevate her complaints to more senior members of the Lake Country RCMP detachment, but felt she was not being taken seriously.
The provincial government said it is “crucial” that people have “confidence that policing throughout British Columbia is high-quality, fair, and unbiased.”
“There is more work to be done as the public expects robust processes for police oversight,” the ministry statement continued.
A legislative committee dedicated to reforming B.C.’s Police Act recommended last year that the provincial government improve oversight of police officers by establishing a single, independent, civilian-led oversight agency.
Right now, police oversight in B.C. is balkanized into three agencies.
The Independent Investigations Office of BC examines incidents involving the police and serious injury or death, the Office of Police Complaints Commissioner handles complaints involving municipal police and the federal Civilian Review and Complaints Commission handles complaints involving non-reserve Mounties.
The government says it is taking a “phased approach” to responding to the committee’s recommendations.
“This will provide time to meaningfully engage and consult on development of new legislation and conduct the necessary analysis so that government can make informed decisions on any new police oversight agency,” the statement concluded.
In a statement to Castanet, the force declined to comment on the specifics of Hay’s case but says it takes all allegations of misconduct seriously “and any report is investigated fully.”
Reserve constables are considered federal public service employees and have to follow the public service code of conduct, RCMP said.
BC RCMP senior media relations officer Staff Sgt. Kris Clark said complaints involving reserve officers can be filed with the detachment’s brass or an RCMP professional responsibility officer.
Clark said RCMP policy dictates that if a property is damaged and insecure as a result of a police action, but a responsible “caretaker, resident or homeowner” is available, “the responsibility to secure the residence will fall to them.”
He said Mounties will make “reasonable efforts” to secure a premises if “operationally feasible” if there is no caretaker or resident available.
“The damage will then be reported to the National Claims Management Program who are responsible for the centralized intake of all claims by and against the RCMP,” Clark said.
“During any investigation involving domestic violence, police will take several steps to protect the survivors such as, but not limited to, separating the parties by removing one from the premises, arresting the aggressor when evidence suggests an offence has occurred, and releasing them on conditions not to contact the victim or go to their residence.
“In some cases, the accused may be brought before a judge or justice if detention or more restrictive conditions are sought.”
Hay, meanwhile, says she is now living in an unstable living environment and unable to work while she deals with a PTSD diagnosis related to the domestic assault and police response.
“I’m stuck,” she said, explaining she previously had a fulfilling life.
“I don't like the fact that I have been made to feel like a victim. I've never felt this way. And I don't know what to do with that because it's not familiar.”
She suggested that if RCMP policy allows the victim of a domestic assault to be placed in a situation like she was, the policy should change. But Hay still holds the individual officer who responded that night responsible, and her inability to file an independent complaint about the situation frustrates her.
“The RCMP need to change … but my situation was directly caused by him,” she said. “I should not be here, he should not just be able to go on and have … no accountability.”