Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne didn't have a warrant to draw blood from an injured patient at the University of Utah Hospital's burn unit. He also didn't have the patient's consent to draw blood. And the patient was not under arrest. That means none of three conditions that would allow the hospital to draw blood from the patient had been met, so Nurse Alex Wubbels calmly refused the Detective Payne's order. But Detective Payne apparently thought his violent, bullying demeanor would suffice in lieu of a warrant. As Nurse Wubbels was talking to her supervisor on her mobile speakerphone in front of Detective Payne, her supervisor told her not to draw the blood and warned the detective not to threaten the nurse. This triggered Detective Payne and he suddenly lurched forward and grabbed the nurse. Things got worse from there.
From The Washington Post:
Nurse Alex Wubbels politely stood her ground. She got her supervisor on the phone so Payne could hear the decision loud and clear. "Sir," said the supervisor, "you're making a huge mistake because you're threatening a nurse."
Payne snapped. He seized hold of the nurse, shoved her out of the building and cuffed her hands behind her back. A bewildered Wubbels screamed "help me" and "you're assaulting me" as the detective forced her into an unmarked car and accused her of interfering with an investigation.
The explosive July 26 encounter was captured on officers' body cameras and is now the subject of an internal investigation by the police department, as the Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday. The videos were released by the Tribune, the Deseret News and other local media.
On top of that, Wubbels was right. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that blood can only be drawn from drivers for probable cause, with a warrant.
Wubbels, who was not criminally charged, played the footage at a news conference Thursday with her attorney. They called on police to rethink their treatment of hospital workers and said they had not ruled out legal action.
Salt Lake police spokesman Sgt. Brandon Shearer said Detective Payne is still on active duty but that he has been "suspended" from the department's blood draw unit.
Screen grab via Deseret News