Salt Lake City police officer Jeff Payne, who was involved in the alleged assault and wrongful arrest of University of Utah Health nurse Alex Wubbels, was placed on leave Friday afternoon along with a second unnamed officer. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Sheriff Rosie Rivera will open a criminal investigation into Payne’s actions.

In a statement, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said, “This is an ever evolving situation, and we will do what is necessary to full investigate the issue, uphold the integrity of the Salt Lake City Police Department and strengthen the trust within our community.”

Within 12 hours of the July 26 incident, he said, investigations started and the video footage was reviewed. After 24 hours, steps were taken “to ensure this will never happen again.” Brown said all blood draw officers have now been trained on the U hospital’s protocol.

A university police officer was on the scene when the arrest occurred and stood by without interfering.

“The incident that occurred at University Hospital in July involving nurse Wubbels was mishandled and created a stressful situation that could have been avoided,” said U Police Chief Dale Brophy in a statement. “Since the time of this incident, we have worked closely with hospital administration and our peer law enforcement agencies to develop clear policies and procedures to prevent something like this from happening again.”

Earlier in the day, several other state and local officials responded to a video of the incident released Thursday in conjunction with a news conference addressing the matter.

Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski called the incident “completely unacceptable.” She said parallel investigations — both an internal police investigation and one from the Citizen’s Review Board — have been opened into what happened and policy reviews are being conducted. Biskupski also said that the situation is a “troubling set-back” to the Salt Lake City Police Department’s (SLCPD) ongoing efforts to increase use of de-escalation techniques.

Until recently, SLCPD hadn’t had a fatal officer-involved shooting since 2015 due to de-escalation training, and has been considered by some to be a model police force when it comes to such tactics.

Salt Lake City Councilmember Charlie Luke referenced those same techniques in his statement regarding Payne’s actions.

“As a Salt Lake City Councilmember I have been and will continue to be a strong advocate for our police officers and department,” Luke wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “Our police officers are dedicated and well trained, which is why this incident is so disturbing, and taints the good work of the men and women of the SLCPD.” He apologized to both Wubbels and the public.

City Councilmember Derek Kitchen wrote on social media that the video footage of Wubbels’ arrest is “one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen in awhile.” He said he trusted the investigations to be “thorough and fair,” but said, “at the very least I would like to see this officer placed on administrative leave.”

Gov. Gary Herbert took to Twitter, calling the video of Wubbel’s arrest “disturbing,” and urged the city’s police department to “quickly respond and rectify the situation.”

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox wrote on Twitter, “This is outrageous and inexcusable — and hurts the reputation of good cops everywhere.”

Cox told a commenter that the police department is not under the jurisdiction of the governor’s office, but said they would follow the situation, tweeting, “I hope they treat him with the same respect he showed that nurse.”

State Sen. Todd Weiler, who chairs the Utah Senate Judiciary Committee, condemned Payne’s actions on Twitter.

“Immediately after viewing the police cam video, I contacted the head of the Utah Police Association to inform him with my utter disgust,” Weiler wrote. “I am deeply concerned that Det. Jeff Payne has not been suspended from duty.”

The Utah Nurses Association President Aimee McLean said in a statement she was “deeply disturbed” by the video.

“Nurses, like all health care professionals, deserve to work in settings free from violence, fear and intimidation,” McLean said. “We look forward to working with local and state officials to ensure that nurses are respected and safe in all practice settings.”

The American Nurses Association has also responded to the incident, saying “What happened in Utah should not happen anywhere to any [nurse]” and that Wubbels “did everything right.” It wrote, “It is outrageous and unacceptable that a nurse should be treated in this way for following her professional duty to advocate on behalf of the patient as well as following the policies of her employer and the law.”

The story has been reported on by national outlets including the Washington Post, USA Today, The Hill, The Guardian and TIME.

Wubbels’ lawyer has said Payne believed he was operating under a Utah law which has not been in effect since 2007.

Wubbels did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

@EliseAbril

e.vandersteen@dailyutahchronicle.com

@emilyinorgandy

e.anderson@dailyutahchronicle.com

Elise Vandersteen Bailey
Elise is the Investigative Editor at the Daily Utah Chronicle, but still writes when she can. Some of her favorite things to write about over the last few years have been research and medicine. This May, Elise will graduate with a degree in Kinesiology, after which she hopes to attend graduate school. She spends her free time wondering whether it's too nerdy to Tweet whatever "cool" graph she's found most recently. Secure contact via Peerio, Username: eliseabril

30 COMMENTS

  1. We must put a stop to the Gang in Blue Bro Code.
    ALL officers present must be prosecuted; this incident should be prosecuted like a gang land kidnapping/assult. ALL officers present must be jailed!!!! HOW is this officer riding a desk? DO it NOT SCREAM OF CORRUPTION!!!!

    • Yes, the officers should be prosecuted. That being said, it’s a good thing this will be handled by people that know the difference between what this officer did and a gang land kidnapping/assault.
      Regarding your “Gang in Blue Bro Code”, using an isolated incident as evidence that there is a huge problem is never a good argument. With the hundreds of thousands of police officers employed, you will never get to 100% correct decision making. This incident, like so many before, will result in better training, and perhaps this officer will be fired, and even do some jail time. Yes, police department can do better, and they are getting better every day. But “Scream of Corruption”? Try to keep things in perspective. If you hear of an young Hispanic shooting someone, do you use this as evidence that there is a problem with young Hispanics? Yes, it is the exact same thing.

      • What makes me mad is that the patient was a reserve deputy who they wanted to do a blood draw on to clear him of DUI. Knowing it was illegal and that once the blood was drawn, no other blood could be used because of the illegal draw.

        This shows that at least 1 LEO (Payne) is willing to do anything, break any law to cover for a a fellow officer.

        • Actually, it was the Logan department, which requested the draw, that was likely trying to cover itself after its car chase led to this wreck. If this victim has alcohol in his system it might reduce any liability to the police. Their excuse was that this would clear him of DUI, but since there was no probable cause the draw is illegal. The victim’s Idaho police department has thanked Nurse Wubbels for protecting him.

      • Very thoughtful, and well said. The frustration with police is well deserved, we see it all over the country,
        far too often. Some take the badge and gun directly to their head and should not be officers. And of course there is a blue code, that’s part of the problem, some have lost their jobs rather than tell the truth about another officer.

  2. there is more of this than we would like to believe. The officer need to be fired, lose all benfits and be charged with kidnaping or some like charged, send a few of these police to jail and maybe other will not be so quick to abused their office.

  3. No, this is not a reaction to the subject matter as I do agree with most of it; it is just my personal opinion on the grammar used: “DO it NOT SCREAM OF CORRUPTION!!!!” I am surprised that someone with the credentials listed on her page would not look over things before submitting them in print.

  4. Steph, you are overstating as much as the cop overreacted. There is no Blue Bro Code. Every officer there arrested? Corruption? Nonsense. He was a detective, meaning he was higher ranked than those uniformed cops. They, as well as the civilians, have no legal power to stop him. They, and SHE did everything right. They videoed it. They had someone on the phone who sounded like their legal dept telling Supercop what a mistake he was making. The arrogant bastard simply didn’t care. He wasn’t getting his way and he lost his cool. Sad really, because he probably has been a good cop to be promoted that high. Now his career is over. NO WAY they can keep him or reassign him. As citizens, we cannot allow someone with that poor of judgement to carry a gun and have authority among the citizenry. He has to be forced to retire at the very least. Or flat out FIRED. Personally, I prefer forced retirement to not forget the many years of good service. But no way should he stay. And the nurse deserves a damn medal for keeping her cool and acting EXACTLY as she was supposed to.

    I am not a cop and never have been. But to trash all cops for one idiot’s action is just as bad.

    • Dan, Following orders and rank is never a legal defense for breaking laws. Whether they be domestic laws governing citizens and police, or international laws involving warring nations.

      Those officers surrounding him, regardless of lower rank, swore an oath. In that oath they swore to defend and uphold the law. They have a duty, to the people they have sworn to protect, the law they have swore to uphold, and the department they have sworn to serve, to stop their colleagues when they are committing a criminal act.

      That is what Payne did. He committed a criminal act. That, had he been a civilian, would have carried the weight of several felonies.

      The fact that they stood by and did nothing. Either out of ignorance of the law. Or fear of an officer of higher rank. Makes them complicit, and just as guilty of those felonies as Payne himself.

    • This is the “Blue Bro Code”
      The unconscious patient was a reserve deputy and the blood was to clear him of DUI.

      Why didn’t officer Payne , being a “Certified Phlebotomist” do the blood draw in the field where he had authority. Being a “Certified Phlebotomist”, LEO Detective Payne KNEW the blood draw was illegal. If blood had been drawn , it would not have been allowed in court, and any further blood drawn would be inadmissible after the illegal sample so the reserve officer would have been cleared.

      This shows that officer Payne will do anything including breaking the law, to cover a fellow officer.

    • You obviously didn’t watch and listen to the video outside the hospital where the detective and two officers were discussing the situation after the nurse was placed in the squad car. All three couldn’t care less about the nurse. They were discussing alternative means to obtain the sample. Their arrogance and ‘brotherhood’ was evident in the conversation. They even commended hospital security because they didn’t interfere with them. No remorse, no feeling., just cya. The perpetrator Payne, even mentions if this incident will affect his ‘gold cross’ whatever that is. They are all about power and control. General statement but it is human nature.

  5. Being an advocate of Law Enforcement, I don’t make any comments on these kind of stories because I don’t have all the facts prior to the events leading to arrests. However the body-cam video related to this story clearly shows Officer Payne stating his intentions of arresting this nurse a good 3 minutes prior to him hearing the legal protocols agreed upon by his department and the hospital. Once those procedures were read and shown to him by Nurse Wubbels and having her supervisor saying over the phone “He was making a huge mistake.”, Officer Payne retaliated against her because He refused to accept her ‘PROOF’ as truth. This is a common behavior amongst all criminals when in a tense situation. His statement 3 minutes prior to saying “We’re Done” and refusal to accept clear legal protocols shown to him, is a clear indicator of Criminal Intent to Retaliate! Lets hope DA Sim Gil can come to the same conclusion in his Investigation!

    • The other police officers might not be criminally responsible but probably guilty of the more heinous act of cowardice. Shame on them. Saying it’s their job to side with another officer who was clearly out of order is just downright deplorable

  6. This sob should be fired, arrested, and charged with assault. The right to draw blood was illegal and he should have known that. His failure to do so shows reckless disregard. His arrest of the nurse is tantamount to assault. Let him be arrested and charged.

  7. The officer certainly did not deescalate the situation and would not listen to reason. The nurse was calm while speaking with him. Did not threaten him as he threatened her with arrest. Was not a threat to him. He turned it into a violent confrontation. He did assault the nurse and illegally detain her. Does that make it kidnapping also? It sure looks like the badge and gun went to his head. He was just looking for someone to arrest to show his power. The head of the hospital and his entire staff should have said wait a minute I will be right there. And then said all of us refuse your illegal demand-arrest us all. This officer should not be employed by the police department in any function. And tried for assault. A big abuse of the police power.

    • The ER Manager was right there and told him that he didn’t need to do this and that admin was coming. Those officers should have been escorted out of a confidential patient care area to wait somewhere else for Administration to come talk to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if some patients file complaints for the disruption to their care.

  8. The cop, and according to his comments, his supervisor screwed up. That’s human. Having said that…….wow! I will assume that the nurse’s attorney will litigate a huge settlement with the City of Salt Lake, the police department and the officer and his supervisor. I feel very badly for the on site law enforcement officers who tried to cool out a frightened and unprofessional colleague. What is particularly disturbing, in my view,is that nurses have a much,much tougher job than police officers yet don’t receive the support,credit and paycheck that,for good reason, cops demand. Oh,well. Sadly,everyone will have to jam up the court system with another case of stupidity.

  9. Ignorance of the law is no excuse! The officer’s attorney says he was acting under an old 2007 “law”? If anyone should be informed and aware of current “laws”, it is a person sworn to understand, enforce and uphold the “law”. Citizens are not allowed to use such a defense for their lawful actions and neither should any officer. What an insult to the public and community for his attorney to even suggest such a lame/inappropriate excuse for this officer’s blatant disregard of the “law”, and follow-up physical force being used for obvious criminal behavior! I have extreme respect and admiration for police but they are not exempt from personal human failures of rage and anger. While I understand conflicts do occur I deeply resent and have less than zero respect nor understanding for other officers who ignore, overlook, concur, defend, codon or lie to protect their offending officer. That solves nothing and creates severe problems for offices and citizens.

  10. perhaps most surprising is that none of the other officers present tried to defuse the situation by taking detective payne aside for a few minutes. there was no real urgency here that required immediate action by anyone. the patient was unconscious and not under arrest. the charge nurse was polite and clear as to why she couldn’t allow the blood draw, and had made law enforcement privy to her conversations with her supervisor.

    the escalation here is dumbfounding and totally without merit.

    • Yes, imagine it. Orderly to emergency room triage nurse..”we have an officer with a gunshot wound to the chest coming in by ambulance, eta seven minutes”..Nurse..” Oh my, sounds serious. We are very busy tonight but I think I can fit him in right after the lady with the ingrown toenail, the kid with the black eye and the girl with the cracked wrist bone. Shouldn’t be more than an hour and a half or two hour wait. We should probably speed things up by having the officer fill out the appropriate paper work and showing insurance documents. Oh, best make some coffee for the EMT attendants while they wait. “

  11. How soon we forget; this reminds me of the Fergurson deal where everyone jumps to conclusions and becomes a lynch mob. Politics has no place here and the politicians should be ashamed of themselves vying for votes in this action. Let the investigation take place and let the chips fall where they may. Nurses are human but police officers are human too and subject to making a bad decision. Why are we so eager to hang our public servants the first time they make a bad decision. If the officer has a history of bad decisions the investigation will bring that out. Until then cool it and quit thinking that every police officer is out to arrest you for no good reason.

    • Modern police training is based on forced compliance. If a person dares to assert their civil rights they are perceived as a threat. At this point the situation is escalated by LEO’s until they can arrest the person. These cases will be throw out but, the point is made. Do NOT resist the State!

  12. The facts are clear: officers of both the Salt Lake City PD and the University of Utah PD conspired to unlawfully obtain blood from the patient and committed aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery on a health professional and commission of felonies while in possession of firearms. Their agencies have offered tepid semi-apologies but have not filed criminal charges against anyone. Although Payne was fired by the ambulance service, he remains a licensed paramedic in Utah. The hospital has now limited police contact with staff, but what are they do to if a crime is taking place? Clearly they can not depend on either of these corrupt agencies, so they’ll have to call the Highway Patrol or Fish and Game. Or perhaps they can contract with another agency to provide police services. There’s an old Chinese saying that a fish rots from the head, and all of the involved officers need to be arrested and the chiefs need to be fired. As a physician I take this matter seriously. Nurse Wubbels can file civil lawsuits against SLCPD and UofUPD, the hospital and the officers individually. Cops think they have immunity to suit, but that is not true if they act maliciously or violate someone’s legal rights, as they clearly did.

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