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Salt Lake Police Fire Cop Who Arrested Nurse Over Blood Draw

Body camera footage has consequences.

WubbelsSalt Lake City PoliceRemember the Salt Lake City cop caught on body camera footage roughly arresting a nurse for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient? He's been fired. His shift commander, who oversaw the encounter and ordered her arrest, has been demoted.

The July confrontation between Detective Jeff Payne and University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels was captured by police body cameras. A month later, Wubbels received a copy of the footage from the city and publicly released it to highlight what she believed to be a serious problem of police attempting to intimidate nurses.

The video went viral over Labor Day weekend, and the public was outraged. Payne had demanded that Wubbels bring him to a patient to draw blood, but he did not have a warrant and the patient was unconscious and could not consent. The man wasn't even a suspect in a crime: He had been critically injured when his truck was struck head-on by a car fleeing police in a high-speed chase. (He later died.)

Another police department, in Logan, had requested Payne collect the blood as part of the investigatory process. But Payne was not willing to accept Wubbels' explanation that the hospital itself would not allow her to cooperate, and he arrested her on the orders of his watch commander, Lt. James Tracy.

After the fact, it became increasingly clear that Payne's and Tracy's behaviors were a result of frustration that they faced any sort of resistance and that they were not responding to any actual "exigent circumstances." During the internal review, investigators discovered that the Logan Police had been informed about hospital policies, were fine with it, had told Payne they were fine with it, and were arranging to request the man's blood through appropriate channels. Oh, and apparently the hospital had already drawn the man's blood and would have been able to provide it after police went through the proper process of requesting it. Not only was Payne's treatment of Wubbels nasty and unprofessional, it was completely unnecessary.

The Salt Lake Tribune has posted the police department's notices to Payne and Tracy in a heavily redacted format. Even with all the redactions, it is abundantly clear how much the officers messed up the case. It's actually worse than the body camera footage suggests, because the context makes it clear that Wubbels isn't just being stubborn and mindlessly following orders.

Based on the report, it appears that Payne did not adequately explain to Tracy what was actually happening on the scene (including the fact that the Logan Police department did not need Payne to follow through with the blood draw). Nevertheless, the department determined that the facts of the case that were available to Tracy did not justify him ordering Wubbels' arrest before arriving on the scene to see what was happening.

Call this a big win for police body cameras. At least one Salt Lake City councilmember agrees, according to the Tribune:

"I've been hoping this termination would come for some time, but I also think the process matters here, and I'm glad in following a process we got the result that the community was expecting, demanding," Councilman Derek Kitchen told The Tribune. He added that without the release of the body camera footage, "we never would have known" about the encounter. He called such a prospect "terrifying."

"If there was ever a question in my mind if we should have body cameras or not, it was completely eliminated with this case," Kitchen said.

Wubbels herself also said that she believes the case would not have received the coverage it received were it not for the footage.

The police themselves also understand the important role the footage played in holding Payne accountable. That's why the police union is upset that the footage got released in the first place.

It may be too soon to celebrate, though. Payne's lawyer says he's going to appeal to try to get his job back. This happens all too frequently. Even when officers are bumped off the force for misconduct they often find ways to get rehired, or simply go work for a different law enforcement agency. So this story is not over.

Photo Credit: Salt Lake City Police

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  • Citizen X - #6||

    Firing's a good start. Can he be charged with abduction and assault, too?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    He could... but I am sure this is lesson all police will learn from.

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  • Curt||

    My thoughts exactly.

    "Not only was Payne's treatment of Wubbels nasty and unprofessional, it was completely unnecessary."

    I think that Scott quit too early there. Not only was it nasty, unprofessional, and completely unnecessary, it was/should be completely illegal. At some point, we all need to collectively stand up and call bullshit. Simply saying "mistakes were made" after an illegal arrest isn't enough. It's not going to stop until these bitches start finding themselves in jail when they do this.

  • Chuckles_the_Snarky_Piggy||

    I will be pissed if this douchebag does not face charges. How long has the police establishment relied on the "ignorance of the law is no excuse" trope?

    This guy knew the law, but proceeded contrary to it.

    Fuck him up!

  • DajjaI||

    They are running out of real criminals and starting to come after the good guys. Key is - DON'T PANIC. Flop to the ground and don't resist. Cry and plead for someone to help you (like she did) but don't fight them off. Let them take and process you and they will drop any charges. Then vote for the guy who promises to REDUCE law enforcement staffing (or at least not hire more).

  • Hugh Akston||

    Then vote for the guy who promises to REDUCE law enforcement staffing (or at least not hire more).

    If we're voting for fictional characters anyway, I think I'd rather vote for Mr Peanutbutter. He seems like a decent guy.

  • Lily Bulero||

    No he isn't, think of the peanut-allergy sufferers!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Hugh believe that those who suffer from peanut and other food allergies are of weak genetic stock and therefor should be culled for the good of the human race.

  • p3orion||

    I'm willing to retain all those with celiac disease in the gene pool, if we can get rid of the idiots

  • p3orion||

    [sorry, my post got cut off]
    ...if we can get rid of the idiots who don't have celiac disease, but are terrified of gluten anyway.

  • Curt||

    There's a whole hell of a lot of wishful thinking in that.

    "Let them take and process you and they will drop any charges..." ... hopefully. But, probably not. And even then, most likely only after you've hired a lawyer and lost your job. And that's assuming that you're lucky enough to find that they had it on video and provided to you.

    "then vote for the guy who promises to reduce law enforcement." Yeah, because that guy has a great chance to win! And assuming that he does, politicians have such a wonderful track record of keeping their promises.

    "key is - don't panic" Amen. You're right here. You should definitely try to avoid giving them an excuse to kill you.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I always vote against any ballot initiative containing a bond or other form of funding for law enforcement. When they pass, we never get better service fighting property crime (about the only thing I give a shit about them doing). All they do are buy a bunch more expensive Ford Explorers, and maybe hire a few people.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not only was Payne's treatment of Wubbels nasty and unprofessional, it was completely unnecessary.

    Not to mention criminal.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Only if you can find a prosecutor willing to charge him.

  • Number 7||

    yeah, even though it is more than what usually happens, I don't see this as a big win. He lost his job (maybe?) but escaped prosecution for what is clearly criminal behavior. How anyone could view that video and not see assault is beyond me.

    And the meme I've seen going around is that he is only in trouble because he fucked with a blond, white woman, if she were black, he would have been promoted.

  • Lily Bulero||

    Yeah, there would have been no fuss if he's messed with a black nurse doing her job. And it was all on video.

    /sarc

  • Lily Bulero||

    There may be a class issue - if the arrested person is a white laborer with tattoos and an "attitude," or a black woman who's a secretary and volubly protests her arrest, then the public would be more willing to take the cops' side.

    But the public either knows nurses personally, or foresees being treated by them. Nurses (of all races) are generally seen as kindly people who try to save lives. Being on video manhandling and yelling at a nurse who is conscientiously trying to do her job is not a route to career success for a cop.

  • sarcasmic||

    Even when officers are bumped off the force for misconduct they often find ways to get rehired, or simply go work for a different law enforcement agency. So this story is not over.

    Yep. He'll be quietly rehired with back pay once this story is forgotten.

  • ||

    Here's your schadenfreude for the day: Payne's terminated. Permanently. However, one of the security guards who stood there for the arrest while the hospital's attorney was on the phone will take his place.

  • ||

    Sorry, I was pontificating there. I don't know this to be fact.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its a thin blue line not a thick blue line.

    They don't want just anyone who will stand by. Police want cops who use force and then reflect on what to do.

  • deejah||

    Other than maybe being rehired at the same department. Isn't it OK if he gets another job for the police? I'm no fan of what he did, and some criminal charges should probably be brought against him. However, we talk a lot about criminal justice reform and how hard-lines are ridiculous and second chances should be given... Shouldn't we give him the benefit of the doubt that he learned a lesson from this and may be a better officer for it?

    Just a thought, I actually haven't tracked this case, so I don't really know the details...I may be mistaken here...

  • BYODB||

    If he wants his police job back, I'd say it's pretty likely that he didn't learn his lesson. Police are literally supposed to be trained not to do these things, yet he did them anyway as a Detective (not a beat cop) so I find it especially unlikely.

    It's always possible though. Since these guys are given guns and hold real power, it seems like it would be safer to just say 'go find security guard work with nothing more dangerous than a set of keys'.

  • sarcasmic||

    Police are literally supposed to be trained not to do these things

    Are you sure? Police are trained to have a zero tolerance policy for noncompliance. She did not comply. So the use of force was not only justified, but mandatory. I bet this guy honestly believes he did nothing wrong.

  • p3orion||

    "Police are trained to have a zero tolerance policy for noncompliance."

    They shouldn't tolerate noncompliance with lawful orders; his fault was in thinking that his order was lawful.

  • ||

    Free people have a right to be free, caveats are made in order to punish them for crimes. Those caveats should be small. That said, no one is owed a right to work for the government or the people.

    He certainly shouldn't work for the same department (what would it say about the fellow officers and/or department in general if they hired/rehired a felon?) and probably shouldn't work for another department. If a private security firm wanted to hire him, knowing the situation, it's their bag.

  • Barbara Yarhead||

    If he was actually convicted and sentenced and served time, then he might be worthy of working as an officer again.

    Being fired is not a punishment. It's literally a cop out.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I think your sentiment is correct -- the "throw the book at him" crowd is equally wrong here. And so I would actually side with you that caging him seems to be unnecessary and doesn't clearly accomplish much here. (we know that the deterrent factor is overrated, especially in crimes of passion which this seems to be...)

    Having said that, the public should demand a higher bar for those we pay through our taxes. We should universally strive to hire the most qualified individuals possible. And what he did here indicates that there's no chance in hell he belongs in the "qualified" group. Give other people a shot to be police officers first. And believe me, there's no shortage there.

  • Chuckles_the_Snarky_Piggy||

    "And so I would actually side with you that caging him seems to be unnecessary and doesn't clearly accomplish much here."

    Other than send a message to cops who abuse their authority that there are consequences? Which is what cops do to other people every fucking day?

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    "Sending a message" is overrated. It's also not ethically justified.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Did the Logan police actually try to obtain a bloid sample t hrough appropriate channels? If so, under what rationale did they give for wanting a sample from someone who was not charged with anything nor expected to be charged with anything?

  • John||

    No, they did not. And the rationale they gave was more or less FYTIW. The nurse rightfully told them no and refused to engage in what would have been an assault on her patient and a violation of any number of laws. And the cop arrested her for that.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    under what rationale did they give for wanting a sample from someone who was not charged with anything nor expected to be charged with anything?

    They tried to obtain the sample using the "Cover Our Blue Asses" clause. That clause usually supersedes any and all rights a person has.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    The entire department is baffled that it didn't, in this case.

  • John||

    The cop wouldn't have asked if he didn't expect the nurse to do it. And he sure as hell wouldn't have arrested her if he thought there was anything wrong with asking or that he would ever in a million years be held accountable. I am sure they are baffled and shocked.

  • sarcasmic||

    I am sure they are baffled and shocked.

    Yep. Being a cop means you do whatever you want and everyone must obey you. She did not obey him, so he assaulted her. It's what cops do. I'm sure there isn't a single cop in this country who would not have done exactly what he did.

    It's a Catch 22. If he doesn't assault someone for failure to obey he will be fired. However if he illegally assaults a nurse on camera he gets fired.

    Firing him was strictly a PR move on the part of the department. I will be shocked if he is not quietly rehired with back pay, a promotion, and a big apology.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Wubbels received a copy of the footage from the city and publicly released it to highlight what she believed to be a serious problem of police attempting to intimidate nurses.

    I've heard that she was just being a crybaby.

  • Karl Hungus||

    Even when officers are bumped off the force for misconduct they often find ways to get rehired, or simply go work for a different law enforcement agency. So this story is not over.

    If they'd charged him with assault and kidnapping, as would be appropriate, then that would likely mean the end of the story.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Lily Bulero||

    I see that the disciplinary letters don't specifically say the arrests were illegal. Or did I miss it?

  • Paul L.||

    In the letters, all statements of Payne and Tracy are redacted as Garrity protected.
    I wonder if the public is ever going to see them.

  • Lily Bulero||

    I imagine they don't want to taint the jury pool for what is doubtless a forthcoming trial.

    Right?

  • Paul L.||

    The statements of Payne and Tracy to IA are not admissible in court.
    I believe it is the police making up the law.
    Garrity was the court case that statements made in investigatory interviews conducted by their employers can not used against a officer on trial.
    Nothing to do with the public having access to them.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    So if you're a cop being investigated by IA, would all interviews then be between employee and employer? Man, being a cop comes with some sweet privileges.

  • Citizen X - #6||

  • Lily Bulero||

    My guess would be that they don't want potential jury members being tainted by the officers' self-incriminating statements.

    In other words, they may be giving Garrity a broad reading because...well, why not?

  • Lily Bulero||

    Or at least that may be their rationale.

    Why else would they invoke Garrity to keep stuff from the public?

  • Lily Bulero||

    IIRC, in the Oliver North trial, they let him off because the witnesses (and jurors?) may have been tainted by North's compelled Congressional testimony.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    To me, the most troubling thing here is the over-reliance on tox screens and BAC. Despite these tests being poor indicators of impairment, they almost entirely are used as a tool to defy common sense in order to redirect blame. I'm not sure why they needed to draw blood so badly, but it appears that this may have been an attempt to go down the avenue of suggesting that a criminal running from the cops was not the one to blame for an accident that killed someone else. It's amazing to me that it was SO incredibly important for them to draw blood from the victim that it ended up angering them this much.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    He was only fired because he made the King's Men look bad. I'm sure he'll probably be re-hired by another police force soon enough.

  • Lily Bulero||

    The disciplinary letters made reference to the loss of public confidence and the impaired relations with the hospital...which I think is connected to the video going public.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Payne's lawyer says he's going to appeal to try to get his job back.

    He was fired. He'll be rehired. Win/win.

  • BBerry12||

    I recall reading somewhere that Payne had 27 years on the job, so being "fired" really means "Your retirement starts tomorrow."
    Odds are that he'll look for work on another department so he can get salary plus pension.
    Which should give him plenty of income from which to pay the civil damages.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The funny thing is that you get the impression from Wubbels that had the city made a real effort to address the incident she wouldn't have released the video. The guy likely got fired because the police department and the two police in question refused to admit any wrongdoing.

    My belief is that she would have been appeased with a token suspension and a show of policy changes, but they dragged their feet hoping to get the same outcome they always get from dragging their feet.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Salt Lake Police Fire Cop Who Arrested Nurse Over Blood Draw
    Body camera footage has consequences.

    Kudos to the SLC city government for firing this nut case.
    Hopefully, this will be a warning to all cops everywhere, providing of course, they where their body cameras or don[t turn them off.

  • L.G. Balzac||

    Maybe there should be repercussions for administrators that hire cops that exhibit these personalities. People like to say that the vast majority of cops are good, honorable public servants but there's little evidence of efforts to make it so. Looks more like they are actively seeking these types.

  • Joe Clave||

    "He's been fired. His shift commander.... has been demoted."

    This seems backwards to me.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Salt Lake City officer Bron Cruz murdered young Dillon Taylor with two warning shots through the back and got a raise and paid vacation. The take-away here is that if Jeff Payne had simply murdered Wubbels on video, she would have been blamed for failure to drop to her knees to de-escalate the situation and Payne would be living high on the hog today, mebbe running up tit bar tabs with Offissa Cruz, courtesy of obedient Salt Lake City taxees.

  • Crowster||

    It took this long to figure that out?

  • p3orion||

    "Call this a big win for police body cameras... Wubbels herself also said that she believes the case would not have received the coverage it received were it not for the footage."

    The point of body cameras is not to capture eye-catching film for the local news, and thereby ensure enough uproar that justice will be done. They are to provide a true and impartial accounting where the police say one thing and the defendant another.

    The facts of this case were never in dispute, only whether the officer and his supervisor were justified in their actions, actions which both sides recounted in pretty much the same way. This is a victory for justice, but no one should have to provide interesting visuals to get it.

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