A Salt Lake City nurse was arrested for following hospital policy and telling an officer, who did not have a warrant, that he was not allowed to draw blood from an unconscious patient, a trucker involved in a car crash. The Salt Lake City police and the mayor have apologized to nurse, Alex Wubbels.
Since the patient was not under arrest, hospital policy required a judge’s order or patient’s consent for blood to be drawn. The incident, in which the nurse calmly explained hospital policy and was roughly arrested by the officer as she screamed, happened on July 26. Wubbels and her attorney decided to release footage of the arrest now because after meeting with the city and with police they believed it was necessary to prevent another incident.
Her supervisor asked the officer by phone,”Why are you blaming the messenger, sir?” The officer replied, “She’s the one who is telling me no.” The supervisor then told the officer he was “making a huge mistake.” It was then that the officer became angry and attempted to arrest the nurse as she backed away, eventually handcuffing her outside.
An internal affairs investigation into the detective who handcuffed her, Detective Jeff Payne, is ongoing. Although the incident happened last month, he was only placed on administrative leave on Friday.
“I felt obligated to release it on behalf of anyone that’s ever gone through something like this,” Wubbels told CNN.
Chief Mike Brown and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski held a press conference on Friday after apologizing to Wubbels over the phone. The mayor said it was the first time she had seen the video and the police chief said it was the first time he saw it in full, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Late on Friday, city officials said the Unified Police Department was going to conduct a criminal probe into the incident.
Payne said he called his supervisor and that the supervisor advised his to arrest the nurse if she refused to him draw blood from the patient, according to a police report. The police chief said the department said its “blood draw policy” has since been replaced with a new one, according to CNN. The details of the new policy are unclear.
Wubbels isn’t taking legal action against the department right now.
“I want to see people do the right thing first and I want to see this be a civil discourse,” Wubbels told Deseret News.
Wubbels’ attorney, Karra Porter, said that Payne thought “implied consent” allowed him to take the blood test. But as Vox explained, Utah courts rejected that rationale ten years ago and, last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police need a warrant or consent for blood tests.