The Salt Lake City Police Department is opening an investigation after body camera footage shows an officer forcibly arrest a nurse for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient.
Detective Jacob Payne dragged and physically removed nurse Alex Wubbels from University Hospital while she screamed.
Payne then cuffed her hands behind her back and forced her into an unmarked police car, leaving Wubbels sobbing “this is crazy.”
The officer accused Wubbels of interfering with a criminal investigation.
Wubbels, however, said she was just doing her job.
A Utah prosecutor says he’s asked for a criminal investigation into the matter, and Salt Lake City police say Payne will be put on paid administrative leave.
‘You’re making a huge mistake’
Moments before the arrest, the nurse, and former Olympic athlete calmly explained to Payne that hospital policy says they can’t draw blood from the patient, who had been injured in a car accident that left one person dead.
She said the officers needed either an electronic warrant or patient consent to draw blood from someone who is not under arrest. The officers didn’t have either.
Wubbels even called her supervisor who warned Payne, “Sir, you’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.”
Payne, who grew increasingly impatient in the video, snapped.
“No, we’re done,” he said. “You’re under arrest, we’re going!”
Wubbels was later released and no criminal charges were filed.
The encounter was captured on a fellow officer’s body camera on July 26, but was released during Wubbels’ emotional news conference Thursday.
“I just feel betrayed, I feel angry, I feel a lot of things,” Wubbels said during the news conference. “I am still confused. I’m a health care worker. The only job I have is to keep my patients safe.”
Salt Lake Sgt. Brandon Shearer says the department has opened an internal investigation into the matter.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Friday he’s asked for a criminal investigation into case. Gill says he called Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown to request the investigation and that the chief agreed.
Police did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment or details about the criminal investigation.
A spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Police says the department is alarmed by what happened and is working with the hospital to make sure it never happens again, according to NBC News.
The mayor of Salt Lake City says the nurse’s arrest is completely unacceptable. Mayor Jackie Biskupski says it’s a troubling setback to efforts to train officers to de-escalate situations rather than use force. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also weighed in Friday, saying in a tweet that the footage is disturbing and he trusts police will rectify the situation.
Wubbels hopes the incident will spark better law enforcement training.
Agencies “need to be having conversations about what is appropriate intervention,” Wubbels said.
“So at the least, there needs to be some significant discussion about what their duties are to society.”