In Late August, a nurse working at a Salt Lake City hospital stuck to her guns, when a city police detective insistently requested that she hand over the blood sample of an unconscious patient who had been involved in an automobile accident. Nurse Alex Wubbels refused to comply because of a hospital policy stating that blood could not be drawn from an unconscious patient unless he or she was under arrest, there was a warrant or consent was given by the patient. Since none of those conditions were met and after speaking with other medical professionals, Wubbels said no to Detective Jeff Payne.
Payne, however, would not take no for an answer. After threatening Wubbel with jail time and accusing her of disrupting an investigation, he grabbed the nurse’s arm, turned her around and placed her in handcuffs. The entire incident was caught on tape, which is now available to the public.
“I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow,” the detective said. Then, after being told by another party that he was making a big mistake by threatening a nurse, the detective pursued Wubbel, chasing her out of the hospital and putting her in handcuffs. The entire time, she yelled, “Help! Help! Somebody help me! Stop! Stop!”
After twenty minutes of being held, nurse Wubbels was released.
As justification, Detective Payne said he was given instructions to arrest Wubbels if she refused to give the sample. He also said he tried to explain to her that he was legally allowed access to the sample due to the “implied consent” principle.
As pointed out by Wubbels’ attorney, Karra Porter, the trouble with Payne’s argument is that implied consent doesn’t cover blood draw; it only covers breathalyzers. The US Supreme Court made that clear in their 2016 decision on the matter.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski contacted Nurse Wubbels personally, offering her apologies. Wubbels accepted. The mayor also tweeted a public apology, saying, “What I saw on the video last night is completely unacceptable. [Chief Mike Brown] & I apologize for these actions.”
Detective Payne, however, failed to apologize for his actions. Nevertheless, the nurse maintained her faith in the police, saying, “I do think a lot of police act appropriately and are out there to help us.”
To avoid further legal action involving Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, Wubbels accepted a settlement offer of $500,000. The settlement renders all associated parties absolved with respect to the dispute; that includes security guards and police officers at the scene, according to the Associated Press.
Wubbels plans to donate a portion of the money to an initiative that would allow people to obtain body cam footage without having to pay for it.
At a press conference, she spoke of claiming the power of truth and speaking truth to power: “We all deserve to know the truth and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage and that’s what happened in my case,” she said, continuing, “No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience that I went through.”
Additionally, nurse Wubbels plans to take head-on the #EndNurseAbuse campaign and donate funds to the Utah Nurses Association.
Police Chief Brown fired Payne after finding that the detective broke with department policy, saying he was “deeply troubled” by the events. The former detective is, once again, not taking no for an answer; he will appeal the termination.
Lt. James Tracy, who gave Payne the instructions to arrest Wubbels, was demoted and is appealing that decision as well.
And in a tragic twist, Bill Gray, the patient in question, passed away from injuries incurred during an accident caused by a vehicle fleeing the cops. He was, as it turns out, a victim from the start.
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