Utah nurse’s arrest violated policies, investigation shows
Two Utah police officers violated policies when they forcibly arrested a nurse who would not let them draw blood from an unconscious patient, an internal investigation found.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said Wednesday the officers violated several city and department policies, including those pertaining to arrests, ethics and officer conduct.
The officers have 20 days to respond to the results of the internal investigation, after which Chief Mike Brown will determine what employment action should be taken. The police department said it had no comment on the report.
Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne’s tense encounter with charge nurse Alex Wubbels at the University of Utah Hospital burn unit drew national attention after body cam footage of the July 26 incident spread online.
Payne’s attorney, Gregory Skordas, acknowledged Payne “made mistakes,” but said “it’s clear from all accounts that there was fault at virtually every level.”
“It was just an unfortunate concurrence of a lot of mistakes and misunderstanding of the law and really sort of not necessarily appropriate behavior from some individuals, including Jeff, that led to this,” Skordas said.
During the incident, Wubbels refused to let officers draw a blood sample from the patient.
Hospital policy specifies that to obtain a blood sample, police need a judge’s order or the patient’s consent, or the patient needs to be under arrest. The unconscious patient was not a suspect in the wreck that killed another driver.
In the widely-seen police body cam video, Payne expressed repeated frustration after the nurse told him he would not obtain a blood sample.
Wubbels gave the officers a printout of the hospital policy for drawing blood and said their request did not meet the criteria.
After she refused, Payne quickly walked over to her. The video shows Wubbels screaming for him to stop as he forced her out of the door toward a police car.
“I’ve done nothing wrong! I’ve done nothing wrong! Why is this happening? This is crazy,” she said as she was led away.
Payne handcuffed the nurse and placed her in a police car, where she sat for about 20 minutes, according to CNN affiliate KSL. She was later released without charge.
Salt Lake City’s mayor, city council and police later apologized to Wubbels for the arrest.
The Salt Lake City Police Department placed Payne and another officer on administrative leave pending the results of the internal investigation.
Payne was also fired from a separate job as a part-time paramedic.