Utah Officer on Leave After Arresting Nurse Who Did Her Job

Alex Wubbels' attorney says she was left in hot police car for 20 minutes
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2017 5:52 AM CDT

"On the face of the evidence, there is concern that is raised about this officer’s conduct," says Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. Many of the people who have racked up nearly 3 million views of the video that shows Detective Jeff Payne arresting University of Utah Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels would likely agree. Gill on Friday called for a criminal investigation into the encounter, in which Payne handcuffed a screaming Wubbels after she refused to permit a blood draw from an unconscious patient—as she was right to do, according to law, because Payne had neither a warrant nor the consent of the patient, who was not under arrest. The Salt Lake Tribune reports Payne was put on administrative leave Friday afternoon, along with a second unnamed officer connected to the July 26 incident. More:

  • Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Chief Mike Brown both called Wubbels to apologize. Per the city, the Unified Police Department will begin a criminal probe into the matter, and an internal affairs investigation will be conduced as well.
  • The Tribune also offers more background on the patient in question: William Gray, a 43-year-old who was driving a semi when a 26-year-old who was trying to evade the Utah Highway Patrol crashed into Gray head-on. That driver was killed, and a police official explains it's typical to get blood draws of those involved in fatal crashes, even if they aren't suspected of wrongdoing.
  • The AP cites Payne's police report, in which he wrote he was trying to avoid a "scene" by taking Wubbels outside and that this his boss told him to arrest her if she didn't cooperate with the draw. Wubbels' attorney says the nurse was left in a hot police car for 20 minutes before the detective realized the hospital had already drawn the patient's blood as part of treatment.
  • The Tribune notes that while the video may suggest Payne was demanding Wubbels draw Gray's blood, Payne is actually one of a handful of officers certified to draw blood in accident cases, and was looking to draw the blood himself.
(More police investigation stories.)

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