After Utah Nurse Arrest Video, 2 Police Officers on Paid Leave

The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor announced there will be a criminal investigation in the July 26 incident captured on police body-camera video showed Detective Jeff Payne dragging nurse Alex Wubbels from a hospital and handcuffing her

A second Salt Lake City police officer has been put on paid leave as authorities investigate the use of force in a nurse's arrest.

The July 26 incident captured on police body-camera video showed Detective Jeff Payne dragging nurse Alex Wubbels from a hospital and handcuffing her after she refused to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient in a car-crash investigation.

The video has caused outrage since it was released Thursday.

Prosecutors have asked for a criminal investigation, prompting the police department to put two officers on paid administrative leave.

The second officer hasn't been formally identified, but officials have said they also were reviewing the conduct of Payne's boss, a lieutenant who reportedly called for the arrest if Wubbels kept interfering

The video taken at University Hospital in Salt Lake City on July 26 shows nurse Alex Wubbels calmly explaining to Salt Lake detective Jeff Payne that she couldn't draw blood on a patient who had been injured in a car accident, citing a recent change in law. A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirmed that a blood sample cannot be taken without patient consent or a warrant.

The patient, who was not suspected of criminal wrongdoing, was a truck driver who had been burned in a head-on crash with a car that was fleeing police.

The dispute ended with Payne saying, "We're done, you're under arrest," and physically moving Wubbels outside while she screamed and said, "I've done nothing wrong!" The department said the frustrated Payne had called his supervisor and that several people went back and forth about the time-sensitive blood draw.

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Police spokeswoman Christina Judd acknowledged that the officer's frustration is "not an excuse."

"It definitely doesn't forgive what happened," she said.

In a joint statement released late Friday afternoon, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown and Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced that Payne has been placed on full administrative leave as the Unified Police Department is planning to launch a criminal investigation into the incident.

"We cannot allow an incident like this [to] divide our community or taint the good work of SLCPD," Biskupski said in the statement. "When I learned of this unacceptable incident last night, I was outraged and will ensure it is fully and independently investigated so our community can heal."

After taking the nurse into custody, the detective left Wubbels handcuffed and waiting in a hot police car for 20 minutes before realizing that blood had actually already been drawn as part of treatment, said her lawyer, Karra Porter. 

"This has upended her worldview in a way. She just couldn't believe this could happen," Porter said.

Wubbels, a former Olympian who competed in Alpine skiing in the Winter Olympics in 1998 and 2002 under her maiden name Shaffer, was not charged, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

"It hurts to relive it," she told the newspaper of rewatching the footage of her arrest.

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Wubbels said she thinks the video of her arrest, released amid an ongoing national conversation about police use of force, indicates that bullying can take many forms and can happen anywhere, not just in schools or on social media.

"This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme," she told The Associated Press Friday. "And nobody stood in his way."

She said she acted as any good nurse would, following her training and protocols to protect the rights of a patient who couldn't speak for himself.

"You can't just take blood if you don't have a legitimate concern for something to be tested," Wubbels said. "It is the most personal property I think that we can have, besides our skin and bones and organs."

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Wubbels' attorney said Payne had argued he was allowed to take the patient's blood because of "implied consent," though law on that issue was changed years ago.

Payne is among a group of officers who are certified phlebotomists, called upon regularly when a blood sample is required for a police investigation.

Messages for the Salt Lake Police Association union were not immediately returned. Payne could not be reached for comment.

There is a possibility the released footage was edited from the original raw video, though no involved parties have indicated that as a concern.

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In response to the incident, police spokeswoman Judd said the department has since updated its blood draw policy to mirror what the hospital staff uses. She said officers have already received additional training but that they are still sorting out the department's response since the law changed.

"We want to know where something went wrong, what we didn't know, and why we didn't know it," Judd said.

The agency has met with hospital administration to ensure it does not happen again and to repair their relationship.

"There's a strong bond between fire, police and nurses because they all work together to help save lives, and this caused an unfortunate rift that we are hoping to repair immediately," Judd said.

The hospital said it's proud of the way Wubbels handled the situation. The nurse's union National Nurses United called the arrest an outrageous act of violence.

The Tribune reports the patient was a reserve police officer from Idaho who was working his other job as a semi-truck driver when a car fleeing the Utah Highway Patrol crashed into him. Information on the patient's condition wasn't immediately available.

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