An internal investigation is underway at the Salt Lake City police department after a detective was captured on video manhandling the head nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit for refusing to draw blood from a severely injured victim of a car crash. Nurse Alex Wubbels, a former Olympic alpine skier, had told Detective Jeff Payne that she couldn’t draw blood from an unconscious patient unless the detective had a warrant or the patient was under arrest, since the patient was unable to give consent. Wubbels continued to politely rebuff Payne’s repeated insisting that she should draw blood from the patient, and he could be seen in the video growing increasingly incensed. After the nurse’s supervisor told Payne via phone that he was “making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse,” the detective abruptly grabbed a hold of Wubbels, handcuffed her, and dragged her out of the hospital before forcing her into a police car while a shocked and frightened Wubbels screamed for help.
“This is crazy. This is crazy,” she could be heard saying on police body camera video. “Why is he so angry?”
In the police car, the nurse was told by another officer that she had obstructed justice.
“I’m also obligated to my patients,” responded Wubbels. “It’s not up to me.”
The incident stemmed from an accident on a local highway where a man fleeing police in a pickup truck smashed into a truck, causing an explosion that killed the fleeing suspect and set the truck driver on fire, leaving him in a comatose state. Payne, who repeatedly insisted that he had the right to draw the patient’s blood under an “implied consent law” that has reportedly not be in effect since 2007 and was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year, had reportedly been ordered to get the blood of the truck driver, who was not wanted for any crime, for the driver’s own protection. According to Payne’s report, he was advised to arrest the nurse by watch commander Lt. James Tracy in the event that she refused to let him obtain a blood sample. In the end, Wubbels, who had just been doing her job, was right about what the law does and doesn’t permit in a situation like the one with which she was faced.
Despite her rough treatment at the hands of the officers, Wubbels has said that she’s not planning any legal action against police — at least for now.
Watch the body camera footage below.