UPDATE: Det. Jeff Payne, the Salt Lake City police officer who violently arrested University of Utah Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels in July, has now been fired.
After an internal investigation carried out by the police department, Payne was found guilty of violating the agency’s policy the day he arrested Wubbels for keeping officers from drawing blood from an unconscious patient.
At the time of the arrest, officials had attempted to obtain the blood specimen without producing a warrant, prompting the heroic nurse to stand up to the authorities. As a result of her stance, she was aggressively handcuffed and subsequently arrested.
On top of firing Payne, the department also demoted his supervisor, James Tracy, a former lieutenant who's now only allowed to serve as a police officer. Tracy was reprimanded for having ordered Payne to carry out the arrest.
While firing and demoting those responsible for this horrific miscarriage of justice isn’t enough, it’s a good start as it proves that pressure from the public will prompt officials to act.
On Friday, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Police Chief Mike Brown apologized for the violent arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels after she refused law enforcement's request to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient because the officers clearly did not have the patient's consent.
Biskupski announced that there was an internal affairs investigation underway and that the Civilian Review Board was looking into the incident as well.
“I was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer and Ms. [Alex] Wubbels," said Brown in a statement. "I am sad at the rift this has caused between law-enforcement and the nurses we work so closely with. I want to be clear, we take this very seriously.”
"We’ve looked at the actions that took place, the policies that could have prevented it, and the training that must be done," he continued. "Within 24 hours of this incident, Salt Lake City Police Department took steps to ensure this will never happen again.”
A nurse trying to protect her unconscious patient from police taking his blood without consent was dragged from her hospital and arrested in an incident caught on video.
Alex Wubbels from the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City released police body cam and hospital surveillance videos to alert the public of what she said was an unlawful arrest and assault by a Salt Lake City Police officer.
Wubbels was brutally arrested after she told Detective Jeff Payne that she couldn't draw blood from an unconscious person without consent, an arrest warrant, or unless the patient was under arrest — none of which applied to the patient.
Payne demanded a blood sample from a truck driver who was hospitalized after a car crash. Wubbels told him the hospital and the police department already had a policy in place that blood could not be taken without consent from the patient unless there is a warrant from a judge or the patient was a suspected criminal.
“This is something that you guys agreed to with this hospital,” the nurse told Payne. “I'm just trying to do what I'm supposed to do. That's all.”
When she refused, Payne resorted to bullying.
He grabbed her arms, marched her out of the hospital and handcuffed her.
“No, we're done, you're under arrest,” he said, as he pulled the nurse’s arm behind her back.
“Stop! You’re assaulting me,” screamed Wubbels before being placed in a patrol car for about 20 minutes.
She was later released without any charges filed against her.
The officer, on the other hand, threatened Wubbels with jail.
“I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow,” he said in the footage.
A Department of Public Safety officer was reportedly present when the nurse was being harassed, but he did nothing.
On Thursday, Wubbels held a press conference with her attorney, Karra Porter, calling for the police to be better trained.
“I’m a health care worker. The only job I have is to keep my patients safe,” she said.
“A blood draw, it just gets thrown around there like it’s some simple thing. But blood is your blood. That’s your property. And when a patient comes in in a critical state, that blood is extremely important and I don’t take it lightly,” she added.
The patient in question was the victim of the car accident. The other driver, Marcos Torres, 26, was reportedly fleeing the Utah Highway Patrol when he crashed into the victim head-on, sparking an explosion. The victim was on fire when he exited his vehicle, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Torres died at the scene.
Payne has since been temporarily suspended from the Salt Lake City Police Department’s blood-draw program. The program trains officers as phlebotomists to draw blood from suspects.
Sgt. Brandon Shearer said that an internal investigation was ongoing.
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