After a traffic collision in July, a comatose and badly burned driver of a truck was taken to the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit in Salt Lake City. At the hospital, Det. Jeff Payne wanted to draw blood from the patient to determine if the driver was under the influence at the time of the crash. However, he didn’t have a warrant and the patient, who wasn’t already under arrest, was comatose. So he arrested the nurse who stood in his way instead, and it was all caught on another officer’s body camera.
Alex Wubbels explained to Payne she couldn’t draw blood because it would violate hospital protocol, but adding she would be happy to do so as soon as they got a warrant. Payne then threatened to arrest Wubbels for interfering with an investigation if she didn’t draw the blood or let him do it. After speaking with her supervisor, who warned Payne about threatening a nurse, Payne forcibly arrested Wubbels:
“No, we’re done,” he said. “You’re under arrest, we’re going!”
He is seen pulling her arms behind her and places handcuffs around her wrists before yanking her to the back of the patrol car. He said she obstructed justice.
“Please sir, you’re hurting me,” Wubbels said.
“Then walk,” Payne responded.
Wubbels, from inside the car, screamed for help and that “I did nothing wrong!”
Other officers on the scene did not intervene, and Wubbels was released hours later with no charges filed. Payne remains on active duty, but has been suspended from the blood draw unit. An internal affairs investigation is ongoing. A Salt Lake City police spokesperson said other officers have since been briefed about blood drawing law and policies.
At a press conference where she demanded better training for police officers, Wubbels said she felt “betrayed” and “angry” about what happened and doesn’t want something similar to happen to another nurse. “And I am still confused. I’m a health care worker,” she added. “The only job I have is to keep my patients safe.” Wubbels continued, saying “[t]his was not peaceful. This was not even civil.”
UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribute reports Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Police Chief Mike Brown have apologized for Wubbels’ treatment by Payne. In a statement, Brown said he “was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer and Ms. Wubbles. 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.” In a separate statement, Biskupski “[extended] a personal apology to Ms. Wubbles for what she has been through for simply doing her job.”
(Via NBC News)