Utah police officer fired after handcuffing, dragging screaming nurse from hospital
SALT LAKE CITY -- Following the controversial arrest of a University of Utah nurse, one detective has been fired, and a lieutenant has been demoted.
Detective Jeff Payne and Lt. James Tracy came under public scrutiny in July after they arrested Alex Wubbels, who refused to conduct a blood draw, citing hospital policy.
According to a notice of employment termination, the Salt Lake City Police Department stated that Payne violated numerous police policies, and "dramatically undermined public respect."
"Based on the strong and compelling evidence as set forth above, I have lost faith and confidence in your ability to continue to serve as a member of the Salt Lake City Police Department," Chief Mike Brown said.
In a demotion decision for Tracy, Brown cited a number of policy violations, and a lack of restraint when dealing with hospital staff.
"Your lack of judgement and leadership in this matter is unacceptable, and as a result, I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the department," Brown wrote.
Both officers were under administrative leave prior to the SLCPD's decision.
Alex Wubbels was working as the charge nurse on July 26 when an unconscious semi-truck driver was brought into the hospital. The driver had been struck by a motorist who was fleeing from Utah Highway Patrol troopers in Cache County.
A Salt Lake City Police officer arrested Wubbels after she refused the officer’s demand to take a blood sample from the injured truck driver.
Wubbels told the officer that the hospital and police department already had a policy in place that blood could not be taken without consent from the patient, a warrant from a judge, or unless the patient was a suspect in a crime.
“I was just trying to do it the right way," Wubbels said. “If they need blood they need to go through the proper channels.”
After displaying the blood draw protocol, the officer arrested Wubbels and placed her in his squad car. On the police body cam video, Wubbels can be heard screaming at the officer to stop.
“Please sir, you are hurting me,” Wubbels says.
“Then walk,” ordered the officer.
Karra Porter, Wubbels' attorney, said the incident was unlawful. The civil attorney was also critical of the University of Utah Police for not intervening to help the nurse.
University of Utah officials will be releasing new blood draw policies on Wednesday, October 11.
“The privacy and safety of our patients and staff is our utmost concern. Tomorrow we will be releasing our new policy regarding interactions between medical staff and law enforcement in our hospital,” the university said in a statement.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski commended all those who helped with the investigation of Payne and Tracy, and acknowledged the pain it has caused the community.
Biskupski released the following statement:
"I also want to thank the residents of our community for their patience as we moved through this process. I recognize this incident has caused pain, confusion, and anger for many in our community—especially among our healthcare, law enforcement and emergency management professionals."