The Utah Police Department have gone into damage control mode after a video of nurse unlawfully arrested went viral.
CNN reports Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown and mayor Jackie Biskupski have issued public apologies to Alex Wubbels, a nurse from the University of Utah Hospital who was arrested by Det. Jeff Payne. Footage of the July 26, which was released earlier this week, highlighted the moment Wubbles was roughly detained by Payne for refusing to hand over a blood sample of a patient in the hospital’s burn unit.
The victim was severely burned when he was caught in the middle of a high speed police chase between cops and another driver. The suspect died, but police were looking to obtain a blood sample from the victim. Wubbles explained hospital polices wouldn’t allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient without a warrant or notice from a judge. After an hour-long debate, Det. Payne grabbed a shaken Wubbles and dragged her out of the hospital as employees filmed the incident.
“I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do. That’s all,” Wubbels tells Payne and another unidentified officer. “Oh, please. We’re done here. We’re done. We’re done,” Payne replied.
“I’ve done nothing wrong! I’ve done nothing wrong! Why is this happening? This is crazy!” Wubbles is heard saying in the disturbing video. Wubbles was held in a police squad car for twenty minutes before she was released. During a news conference Friday (Sept. 1), Brown condemned the Payne’s actions and profusely apologized to Wubbles.
“I was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer and Ms. (Wubbels),” Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown said. “I am sad at the rift this has caused between law enforcement and the nurses we work so closely with.”
A police report by Payne claims he was told by a supervisor to arrest Wubbles if she didn’t provide the blood sample. “I told them we wanted to blood sample to protect him, not punish him,” Payne wrote. They also claimed they were unaware of the policy, even after Wubbles printed it out for the officers at the time of the incident. Wubbles tells CNN the policy has been in effect for over a year.
Although a month has passed since the incident, Wubbles wanted to release the footage to point out the levels of disregard when it comes to health care professionals and victims who are psychically unable to defend themselves.
“I felt obligated to release it on behalf of anyone that’s ever gone through something like this but didn’t have evidence or video,” Wubbels said. “Just being bullied by police for any particular reason in a health care setting. This should never have happened and it should not happen again. We have to have a conversation and a discussion.”
Mayor Jackie Biskupski released a statement Friday with an apology to Wubbles and the announcement of an internal affairs investigation into the incident.
“No medical professional in Salt Lake City should be hindered from performing their duties, and certainly not be fearful of the police officers they so often partner with to save lives,” she said.
Payne and the other officer have been placed on paid administrative leave.