Police body camera video shows a nurse in Salt Lake City being taken out of a hospital and handcuffed for refusing to draw blood from an unconcious patient. Police officials have apologized and say the incident is under investigation. (Sept. 1)
(Photo: Salt Lake City Police)
A Utah police detective who was filmed forcefully handcuffing a nurse who refused to draw a patient’s blood has been fired, a Salt Lake City Police spokesman said Tuesday.
Detective Jeff Payne arrested Alex Wubbels after she refused to allow police to take blood from an unconscious patient who had been injured in a car accident. Body-cam footage of the July 26 incident went viral after it became public in September, sparking outrage across social media.
In the video, Wubbels explains to the officers that they needed a warrant because the patient couldn’t consent. Payne appears to grow tired of listening to Wubbels objections, saying, "We’re done here. We’re done," before shoving her out the door and handcuffing her.
Wubbels was held in a police car, but later was freed without charges.
More: Hospital CEO on nurse arrest video: ‘This will not happen again’
Gordon Crabtree, CEO of University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, later said hospital security should have intervened and changed hospital policy so that police officer can only speak to senior nurse supervisors.
"To our nurses and staff — this will not happen again," Crabtree said. "Nurse Wubbels was placed in an unfair and unwarranted position (and) her actions were nothing less than exemplary."
"I just feel betrayed, I feel angry, I feel a lot of things," Wubbels said during a news conference after the video’s release. "I am still confused. I’m a health care worker. The only job I have is to keep my patients safe."
Payne’s lawyer, Greg Skordas, said he plans to appeal the decision. Skordas said Tuesday that Payne would still have a job if the video of the arrest hadn’t gone viral.
He said Payne would agree to punishment but that termination was going too far.
Payne’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, was demoted to officer, the Associated Press reported. His lawyer, Ed Brass, couldn’t immediately be reached.
Tracy made an impulsive decision in ordering Payne to arrest Wubbels without first taking time to understand the facts of the situation and the law, Salt Lake City police chief Mike Brown wrote in his disciplinary letter.
He said the order created chaos and unnecessarily escalated the situation.
“Your lack of judgment and leadership in this matter is unacceptable, and as a result, I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the department,” Brown said.
The letter said Wubbels told investigators that Tracy minimized her concerns, intimidated and lectured her, and made her feel like she was to blame for the events.
The Associated Press obtained the disciplinary letters for Payne and Tracy through a public records request.