After completing an internal review into the forceful arrest of a Utah nurse who refused to take blood samples from an unconscious patient, The Salt Lake City Police Department has taken actions against the police detective who arrested her, as well as demoted his supervisor.
The incident was captured on body camera footage and hospital security cameras, which were then used to launch the department’s investigation (the footage can be viewed below).
Police Chief Mike Brown issued a termination letter, obtained by the Deseret News, to Detective Jeff Payne on Tuesday. “I have lost faith and confidence in your ability to continue to serve as a member of the Salt Lake City Police Department,” he wrote. “I am deeply troubled that an officer with 27 years of experience would choose to pursue the course of action and behave in the manner that you did. For any officer, let alone one with your tenure, this is simply unacceptable.”
Payne’s supervisor, James Tracy, was demoted from lieutenant to police officer. Brown said he was the “catalyst” that led to nurse Alex Wubbels’ July 26 arrest at the University of Utah Hospital.
Right after the incident, the video of the arrest went viral, and Payne was fired from his part-time job as a paramedic. In the video, Payne said he would retaliate against the nurse.
The body cam footage showed nurse Alex Wubbels refusing Payne’s demand that she draw blood from an unconscious patient who had been involved in a car crash. Wubbels, head nurse of the hospital’s burn unit, calmly explained to the detective that a warrant or the patient’s consent would be required.
“I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do, that’s all,” she told him.
Payne responded angrily, saying, “I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow” before chasing the nurse down and handcuffing her. In video footage, Wubbels was seen sobbing and screaming for help. “You’re assaulting me!” she cried.
Payne told officials that he had explicitly been told by his supervisor that he should arrest Wubbels if she refused to cooperate.
Brown condemned the supervisor’s “unacceptable” lack of “judgment and leadership” in his demotion letter this week. “I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the department. I am troubled that an officer with your experience would fail to exercise sound discretion and good judgment in this matter.”
Payne and Tracey have five days to appeal Brown’s decision, NPR reported.
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