U Nurse Alleges Assault and Wrongful Arrest

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In a news conference, Thursday at the offices of her lawyer, University of Utah Registered Nurse Alex Wubbels alleged that a Salt Lake City police officer, Detective Jeff Payne, assaulted and wrongfully arrested her as she was attempting to follow hospital policy.

On July 26, Wubbels was working in the U hospital’s burn unit when Payne and other officers approached her, requesting a blood sample from a patient “suspected to be under the influence.” In body camera footage obtained by both The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, she can be seen showing officers a policy agreed to by both the U and Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) that says blood cannot be obtained by police from a patient unless the officer has a warrant, the unconscious patient has consented or the patient was under arrest.

Payne told another officer early on in the situation, “You tell her if she interferes in any way of you getting the blood draw, she is to be arrested.”

In the videos, Payne asked Wubbels, who was on the phone with hospital administrators, “So I take it … I’m not going to get blood. Am I fair to surmise that?”

The administrator asked Payne over speaker phone, “Why are you blaming the messenger, sir?”

He answered, “She’s the one that has told me ‘no’.”

The administrator responded, “Yeah, but sir, you’re making a huge mistake right now … you’re threatening a nurse.”

To that, Payne said, “No, we’re done. We’re done. You’re under arrest.”

In the video, Payne physically takes Wubbels outside the building and places her under arrest as she screamed for help.

When other employees question why Wubbels was being taken into custody, Payne can be heard saying, “I’m leaving now, and I’m taking her.” As he walked Wubbles to a patrol car, she said, “Please, sir, you’re hurting me.” She asked repeatedly, “What is happening?”

After Wubbels is placed in the patrol car, a new SLCPD officer approached, saying he needs to speak to Payne. The name plate on his uniform is illegible in the video. Their conversation is inaudible in body camera footage, but afterward, he turned to speak to Wubbels, telling her he appreciated that the U’s hospital has a policy but that he was trying to talk to her about the law. She told him she’s obligated to protect her patient.

In response, he told her that the patient the police want blood from is the victim of a crime and that, if the police were doing something wrong, there are “civil remedies” that will make it “all [go] away.” He explained to Wubbels that he’s been a police officer for over two decades — saying he knows the law and her refusal to let the police take a blood sample is obstruction of justice. “Your policy doesn’t affect my legal standing.” Later he told another employee, “There’s a very bad policy up here of your policy interfering with my law.”

When another hospital employee told the officer he has the hospital’s privacy officer on the phone, the officer said, “he doesn’t know anything, I don’t need to talk to him.”

The patient whose blood they were seeking is William Gray, who is a reserve police officer in Idaho, according to law enforcement in the video. Earlier that day he was involved in a serious car accident while working as a semi-truck driver. Utah Highway Patrol officers had noticed a truck driving erratically on the freeway. When they attempted to pull the car over, driver Marco Torres fled, leading to a pursuit that ended when he hit Gray’s truck head on. Torres was killed in the collision, and Gray emerged from his truck engulfed in flames. U hospital officials told The Salt Lake Tribune Thursday that Gray remains in critical condition.

Wubbels hasn’t filed a lawsuit or pressed charges of any kind against Payne. An assault against a health care worker in Utah can result in a felony charge. She told news organizations that if the public release of police footage doesn’t start a discourse with the police department, she’ll consider filing a lawsuit. Wubbels also criticized a U campus police officer who watched the altercation but didn’t step in.

Wubbels was later released and was never charged with any crime.

Payne is still on active duty but is temporarily not helping with other blood draws. The police department has opened an internal investigation.

The U and University of Utah Health did not immediately respond to requests for copies of the policy Wubbels referenced in the video. However, in a statement, they said, “University of Utah Health supports Nurse Wubbels and her decision to focus first and foremost on the care and well-being of her patient. She followed procedures and protocols in this matter and was acting in her patient’s best interest. We have worked with our law enforcement partners on this issue to ensure an appropriate process for moving forward.”

Hospital spokesperson Suzanne Winchester says, “[G]oing forward as a result of this incident, we have modified our procedures with law enforcement regarding blood draws from patients. Now, if law enforcement needs a blood draw from a patient, they will be required to work directly with our nurse supervisor on-call (the house manager for the hospital), who will manage the process as a central point person to determine the best course of action. This will eliminate the ability for law enforcement to go directly to patient care units for blood draws.”

According to Winchester, the new blood draw policy at the hospital, like the one Wubbels outlines in video footage, has been agreed to by SLCPD and University of Utah Campus Police.

UPDATE 9/1/2017 10:55am: Wubbels’s lawyer, Karra Porter, says Payne believed he was operating under Utah’s implied consent law which stated that driving a vehicle was implicit agreement to tests for drug or alcohol use, including blood tests. However, implied consent law has not been effective in Utah since 2007, and warrantless blood tests for alcohol consumption were ruled unconstitutional in 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-1 ruling.

@EliseAbril

e.vandersteen@dailyutahchronicle.com

 

Elise Vandersteen Bailey
Elise is the Investigative Coordinator at the Daily Utah Chronicle, but still writes news articles when she can. Before her present position, she had written for the news team since May of 2016. Elise loves to write about research and medicine, but has covered a wide breadth of topics for the Chronicle. She is a senior finishing degrees in Kinesiology, Sociology and Chemistry. After graduating, she hopes to attend graduate school studying Population Health. Secure contact via Peerio, Username: eliseabril

57 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose, considering the conflagration of unnecessary police shootings around the country recently, policemen may feel Mr. Payne acted with some restraint. However, just because Detective Payne didn’t assault her with a gun, does not mean he didn’t assault her.
    Detective Payne needs to be arrested for assault, illegal restraint and anything else that qualifies, unless this abhorrent behavior is perfectly acceptable in Utah?

    • Can’t arrest an officer for assault because he is bad at his job, he did not hit her or shoot her, her used force to her resistance and hand cuffed her. He was wrong from the get go, she did nothing wrong, I am sure there is no law on the books that a nurse has to draw blood from a patient when asked by an officer unless presented by a warrant and even then she/he is not forced to comply just the hospital. SLCPD should be sued and should be held liable if the nurse should press charges.

        • It does not have to even be forcibly grabbing someone. Amount of forces has nothing to do with it. Just making purposeful contact with someone meets the requirements for assault. Payne also needs to be investigated for civil rights violations against the patient. He is in critical condition and this moron cop and his superior are both determined to draw blood? Simply ridiculous and infuriating. Nothing worse that a cop with an overinflated ego who also does not know the law.

      • Tony Bruin I’m sorry but you could not be more wrong about “can’t arrest an officer for being bad at his job”. That is exactly why he needs to be arrested because he does not know what he is doing. Between himself and the other officers involved there needs to be some out right firings and felony assault charges filed on Payne. Please be better informed when you decide to comment on a subject because toy look foolish when you say things like “he didn’t hit her or shoot her”.

  2. Why does Payne still have a job as a police office? Why was he not immediately arrested for assaulting the nurse? She was following the law, was polite and had consulted with her supervisor on protocol. There was a uniformed officer right there witnessing this, as well as video evidence of the entire event.

    Until police depts respect the law enough to clean up their own ranks of bad cops like Payne, they cannot expect respect from vulnerable citizens. On top of that, it will be taxpayers, not the police department, that will end up paying for his criminal behavior. That needs to change – have any settlements to abused citizens come directly out of the police budget instead of the general funds. They’ll clean their act up quickly when they are made to pay for their own crimes.
    Payne abused his position, and Nurse Wubbels, by resorting to violence when he was LAWFULLY refused a blood sample from the patient! His ignorance of the law is no excuse. Just another bully in uniform.

    • Look at Payne, he’s probably been a cop for some time. There is no way that he didn’t know the law. Most cities and counties have a 24 hour magistrate, who can issue a warrant via video conference any time day or night.

  3. Police chased erratic driver, Torres, who crashed his car into Mr. Grey. Mr. Grey caught on fire and was injured and in a coma as a result of a reckless police pursuit. Then the police try to violate the victim’s civil rights by taking his blood, hoping to find he had something in his system they could use to blame him, the victim. I hope Mr. Grey and Nurse Wubbels sue Officer Payne personally and the police officer who led the suit that put innocent people in danger.

    • He was violating the law, no consent, no warrant to compel, and the patient wasn’t under arrest, which still requires a warrant to compel.
      Warrants are easy, fill out a form and video-conference with the magistrate, less than 5 minutes. Hope they fire him, this type of behavior cannot be isolated to a single incident, would like to see his personnel file.

  4. She deserves being arrested for not cooperating with police investigation. Time is everything to determine the blood drug/alcohol level. Just draw the blood for the investigation, which will not hurt or delay pt’s treatment at all. She is obstructing and protecting a criminal using hospital policy.

    • Nope. He should have had a warrant and he was trying to bypass HIPAA laws. Stop the apologist behavior of assuming cops are incapable of being wrong.

      Luckily she can get him fired and hopefully he gets charged for assaulting someone all due to his huge ego.

    • Under Utah law they can send a paramedic to do the blood draw. And that’s exactly what happened after all this went done.
      The officers did not need to go there beating their chests to get what they wanted. Additionally the arguement should not have involved the nurse but hospital administration.
      There is a chain of command and these officers willfully ignored it. The hospital and the SL Police Department have since admended the procedure for getting the blood draws. It has been clarified that officers do not communicate with nursing staff.
      Additionally, the protocol the nurse was following was agreed upon by the hospital and SL Police department. If the police had a problem with that agreement, the department needdd to amend that protocol not this officer.
      I know someone who works with this officer. This is standard behavior for this man. He was just not frustrated and made a poor choice. He acts like this frequently.
      The patient has still not been charged. And if you listen closely to the 20 minute video you can hear the officers admitting he’s considered a victim.
      The above are facts. Now just something I’m wondering about. This patient was badly burned when a semi he was driving was hit head on by another driver fleeing from the UHP. Is the UHP now wanting to shift blame for the accident? The patient is also an Idaho law officer who also drives semis part time.
      One final observation: the nurse is told she is under arrest. She is handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. Never in the next 10 or 15 minutes did any officer Mirandized her. Not the arresting officers. Not the one who came in a second car and talked to the nurse at length. WHY?

    • The officer admits there is no probable cause to obtain a warrant which is required if you are obtaining blood without consent. Therefore the nurse is not obstructing the investigation because there is no warrant.

    • I call BS. It would completely inadmissible in court if taken without patient consent or a warrant anyway. That patient has constitutional rights that the nurse upheld. I suggest you re read the HIPPA laws. The cop legally is in the wrong. Ask ANY attorney! He needs to be charged with assult. He is a sorry excuse of an officer.

    • DF she did everything she was supposed to. Her supervisor should’ve been there and dealt with this. This cop didn’t like the answer “NO” and that’s the only reason he went off. There’s something strange about why he was chomping at the bit to get a sample. She followed the rules as stated by the hospital AND the police. Laws are put in place for a reason. She did her job. The cop didn’t. She is well within her right to refuse a procedure that was written for his eyes to see, in black and white. I am not sure where you figure she didn’t cooperate. He had no right to assault her like he did. He needed to be patient and do things properly…something’s up with this on his end……

    • It’s the law. It would have been inadmissible as evidence. They already drew lots of blood, and had to test it for all sorts of things because the patient was comatose. It takes 5 minutes to apply for a warrant and can be done via video-conference with the magistrate.

  5. ok – the blood is property of the victim-William Gray, who is a reserve police officer in Idaho- implied consent law has not been effective in Utah since 2007, and warrantless blood tests for alcohol consumption were ruled unconstitutional in 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-1 ruling.
    the cop knew the law-the cop with the cam on said- ‘ why dont we just get a warrant”? det payne answered” no probable cause” then threatened and terrorized the nurse then assaulted her a FELONY then arrested her and illegally detained her deprived her of due process and her civil rights false imprisonment kidnapping and made terroristic threats against her person.
    why?
    to show re the blood test that the driver POLICE OFFICER WILLIAM GREY -was under the influence of drugs thus rendering his legal right to drive on the road NULL and absolving the city of liability for medical costs associated with the injuries caused by the police chase and ensuing accident.
    Detective Payne is a corrupt dirty cop who has ZERO REGARD for the law or the ENFORCEMENT of the law he is a crook.
    NOW as a result of the outrageous illegal felonious assault and illegal unlawfull arrest by this crooked cop – the HOSPITAL ha changed its policies and GUESS WHAT ??
    cops are no longer ALLOWED ON PATIENT UNITS at all zero admittance- now they can only face a hospital administrator who will tell them NO NO NO and you have no legal standing here AND NO this is far as your allowed – nope cant go to patient units or areas …nope too bad …and if you attempt to assault a nurse again – you will face felony arrest charges……….
    yep that 1 bad cop just screwed every other cop in the state and made ALL COPS in the usa look like cowards who BEAT UP WOMEN NURSES.
    oh the nurse? 2 time national alpine ski champion who represented the USA in the olympics twice.

  6. I have been in law enforcement for 25+ years and Payne was completely wrong in his actions and should be arrested and charged with assault. He should at a minimum be put on unpaid administrative leave to sort things out, yet the video tells the entire story. He is a bad cop and gives all of us a bad name, we do not need idiots like Payne in our ranks! Bottom line is an unconscious patient has rights and you cannot take his/her blood without consent or a warrant. Obviously Payne is too stupid or too lazy to attain a warrant (why since the patient was a victim) and should pay for his actions.

    • Phil you need to read the Implied Consent Law of Utah, I am sure it is the same in your state, these officer’s did nothing wrong. Maybe a little overzealous but not in violation of any body’s rights.You like most of the comments here are rushing to judgement because a poor woman got her feelings hurt. This will go nowhere, Payne will keep his job, the Hospital and Law enforcement will meet and come up with a policy everyone understands.

      • Implied consent in Utah went out the window in 2007. The US Supreme Court ruled just last year that a warrant, consent from the individual or the person must be under arrest for a legal blood draw. Educate yourself before you spout off man!!

      • Wow… which video were you watching???? I may not be a police officer (retired firefighter/medic after 26 years of service… ) but if I conducted myself the same way that detective did, even as a firefighter, I would be fired. Saying he was “alittle over zealous” is a freaking understatement… you better open your eyes and look again at the body cam videos. And by the way, go back and read the current “implied Consent” ruling…

  7. When I was in school, Officer Bernardini told us that “ignorance is no defense from the law”. Yet it sure looks like that is what the officer is gearing up to use for his defense. I’m a middle class white woman but it didn’t take a middle class white woman being manhandled for me to understand we have a problem in this country. Thank God they didn’t kill her.

      • he was wrong! even if he had the right to get the blood, do it another way, which is apparently what happened. He was a bully and thug. Hope he loses his job and gets personally sued for every penny he has. People in authority cannot be allowed to abuse that authority and power. I was terrified to see him man-handling this nurse, clearly just out of frustration and macho bull crap. this guy is out of control.

  8. As per Utah’s Implied Consent Law, as it is also in most of the 50 states, a Police Request that a person submit to a Blood Breath or Urine test to determine the alcohol or drug content of the drivers blood, a person can refuse said test, if conscious, however if the driver is unconscious they are deemed to have given their consent. Since the driver in this case was unconscious at the time the officer made the request for blood test, it is the responsibility of attending Doctor or other medical person to withdraw said blood sample. In this case the Nurse is wrong, should have been arrested for interfering with an investigation and taken to a magistrate or jail.

    • Utah law requires you to take a blood, breath, or urine test, or a test of “oral fluids” – saliva – IF YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR DUI. The patient was NOT arrested or even under stated suspicion of driving under the influence. Please make certain that you understand the entire wording of the Implied Consent Law before you make it sound like the nurse was in the wrong. As a practicing physician with over 29 years taking care of trauma patients, I am appalled by your intent to make the victim appear to be the person at fault.

      • Title 41 Chapter 6a Part 5 Section 520 (emphasis mine)

        Effective 5/9/2017
        41-6a-520. Implied consent to chemical tests for alcohol or drug
        (1) (a) A person operating a motor vehicle in this state is considered to have GIVEN the person’s CONSENT to a chemical test or tests of the person’s breath, BLOOD, urine, or oral fluids for the purpose of determining whether the person was operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while:
        (i) having a blood or breath alcohol content statutorily prohibited under Section 41-6a-502, 41-6a-530, or 53-3-231;
        (ii) under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or combination of alcohol and any drug under Section 41-6a-502; or
        (iii) having any measurable controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance in the person’s body in violation of Section 41-6a-517.

        Also take note that “for the purpose of determining” does not always have to mean they were looking for a positive. In this case they were doing it to prove a negative to protect a fellow officer from Idaho; who was the victim here.

      • Title 41 Chapter 6a Part 5 Section 520.1.A.i-iii Utah State Code, enacted May 9, 2017. Google is your friend too.

        That is the part that the Lieutenant was referring to when he gave a direct order to Officer Payne to obtain the blood sample or arrest the nurse.

  9. Ken, You may be part of the problem. If you are paying attention to what is going on with this country. That is unacceptable behavior. If there is O N E person we should be able to count on to be cool, calm, and collective in a stressful environment, it should be a law enforcement officer. Protect and Serve? Heard of it? I spent over a decade as a paratrooper 11 bang bang, and I have seen more coolness under pressure in much worse circumstances than many of these officers quick to draw a gun or be aggressive. Its repulsive and frankly embarrassing. If you cant handle the stress, go be a Walmart greeter or something. Image to those you serve is EVERYTHING. It develops trust. and COPS right now, no trust. So you can defend Mad Max there pushing a nurse around all you like, but I guarantee public opinion will have its way. And should.

      • You ever seen all those books in a lawyer’s or judge’s office? Those are the laws of the state and federal government. They don’t fit in a police officer’s back pocket and are not instantly recallable. That is why you have a District Attorney’s office (they have those books too). If an arrest is ruled improper, then charges are dropped, usually with an apology. Still does not give the person arrested the right to resist.

  10. Arresting a healthcare worker who is operating within hopstal guidelines is ridiculous. It’s obvious Mr. Payne is a bully and I feel he should be terminated for abusing his position as a law enforcement officer. If the police needed a blood sample, there are pathways to legally obtain one. Why didn’t Payne contact his supervisor and address is issue with the courts and hospital administration. He is a bully. Fire his ass!

    • His supervisor is the very person who told officer Payne to arrest her. If the blood was taken illegally, then it would be addressed in the courts. The supervisor was only following Title 41 Chapter 6a Part 5 Section 520 of Utah State Code, which mentions Implied Consent for blood draws.

  11. The nurse was calm and explaining, the officer probably working under alot of stress way out of line. He could have handled the situation alot better. No need for force especially against the nurse. A jury would agree the force was unecessary. Like the officer said, if they did something wrong it would be taken care in court. So let a jury decide but looks bad for the officer. Sorry you had to go through this nurse.

    • Just like the officer said, f they did something wrong it would be taken care in court. Therefore, when you are told you are under arrest, do not resist. Let the lawyers handle it.

      • That officer was totally ignorant of the law.

        When you are taking care of burn victims that are at death’s door, you do whatever you need to in order to protect them from illegal police abuse, up to and including employing deadly force.

  12. It is amazing that this is a discussion. Somebody needs to come forward and arrest this cop. If I had assualted a nurse with that many withnesses i would be seriously hurt or dead. Please lady sue that man and the city. If you don’t others will be treated like you were. If the large reward that you will receive bothers you. Donate to the needy and or associations that will help victims of this kind of treatment. Be careful Salt Lake City a felon is being protected by your police department.

  13. The law needs to change and the nurse, who is little more than a thug in scrubs, needs to be fired. If the 4th Amendment gets in the way of just law enforcement, then it needs to go.

    Personally, I think the officers showed tremendous restraint. She should have been taken down hard.

    • “If the 4th Amendment gets in the way of just law enforcement, then it needs to go.”

      The 4th Amendment isn’t what grants rights. We all have basic human rights that we should defend, whether corrupt police acknowledge them or not.

      Anyone that advocates tearing up the bill of rights for ” just law enforcement,” Needs to have blood drawn and tested for illegal substances.

  14. I must disagree with almost everyone here. Officer Payne was following a direct order from a superior officer. Officer Payne’s Lieutenant was referring to Title 41 Chapter 6a Part 5 Section 520, which was enacted May 9, 2017. So the claim that an Implied Consent law has not been in effect in Utah since 2007, is false. Also, the claim by officer Payne that there are remedies if the draw is found to be improper are also correct. Evidence is suppressed by lawyers on this basis all the time.

    What I have the biggest problem with is lack of respect for the law. Being placed under arrest, even if it is incorrect, is NOT an excuse for resisting. The nurse did what she thought was her due diligence for patient care but as soon as she was told she was under arrest, she should have capitulated and let the lawyers and administrators handle it.

    Lastly, to all those who are claiming the officer assaulted the nurse, allow me to educate you on the state of Utah’s definition: Title 76 Chapter 5 Part 1 Section 102
    Assault is:
    (a) an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
    (b) an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.

    There is no way they could prove that the officer intended to do bodily injury nor was bodily injury caused.

    This could have, and should have been handled better on both sides of the coin.

    • “What I have the biggest problem with is lack of respect for the law. ”

      No, you don’t Not so young Thomas. The police department remained ignorant of a law being struck down in 2007, while looking down their noses and falsely telling their abuse victim that they knew the law.

      The police have no respect for the law, and neither do you. You are just a police abuse apologist, looking for any reason to absolve idiotic and reckless criminal activity by the police.

    • ” Officer Payne was following a direct order from a superior officer.”

      Detective Payne was following an illegal order, and all police are instructed and trained to not follow illegal orders.

      “Officer Payne’s Lieutenant was referring to Title 41 Chapter 6a Part 5 Section 520, which was enacted May 9, 2017. So the claim that an Implied Consent law has not been in effect in Utah since 2007, is false.”

      You are really going to pretend that both yourself and the police don’t understand that judicial review changes law.

      The Supreme court of the United States clearly ruled on the illegality of the action the detective was demanding in 2016. It is part of the job of the police to know the law, but, just as with any civilian, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    • “The nurse did what she thought was her due diligence for patient care but as soon as she was told she was under arrest, she should have capitulated and let the lawyers and administrators handle it.”

      The funniest part about this statement is that the lying detective is now claiming that he didn’t place her under arrest.

    • Also, you are posting a false definition of assault in Utah. This is the correct definition of assault:

      (b) an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.

      Why would you post a false definition?

    • The LEO admitted there was no probable cause which negates application of this law. No probable cause, no warrant, no consent, plus the nurse was not read her rights via Miranda law = cop was acting outside of the law.

      (b) A test or tests authorized under this Subsection (1) must be administered at the direction of a peace officer having grounds to believe that person to have been operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while in violation of any provision under Subsections (1)(a)(i) through (iii).

  15. Why didn’t the Chronicle report on this when it happened? This happened in JULY. All of the facts were known to local press shortly thereafter. Why didn’t the Chronicle make a FOIA request?

    Instead, you polished your chairs and let this nurses attorney do a job that the press should be doing. Only once the video was released, and you saw that it was generating clicks did you decide a nurse being assaulted, abused and arrested while on duty deserved your time & attention?

    Pathetic.

  16. The legal arguments presented in this discussion are thought provoking, but my observation probably has little to do with state code or SC case law. I’m curious about what caused the officer to get so triggered when the hospital supervisor was speaking to him via speakerphone. If I heard correctly, the supervisor was saying to the officer that he was making a big mistake in threatening a nurse. If so, I wonder which of those words may have been the trigger: mistake, threatening, nurse? I wonder if the officer has been in trouble for threatening behaviour at some time in the past, versus whether he just reached his limit for rational response for reasons unrelated to what the supervisor was saying at the instant he snapped. Seems like police and hospital officials are looking for lessons learned to prevent recurrence, but none of the news articles indicate that they’re taking a close, granular look at the sequence of events leading up to the abrupt behaviour on the part of the officer. I think it would be a mistake not to take this into account.

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