A nurse says she was assaulted and illegally arrested by a Salt Lake City police detective for following a hospital policy that does not allow blood draws from unconscious patients.
Detective Jeff Payne is the “officer” in this case. Unclear why he is still working this morning but according to the dispatcher I just spoke to in Salt Lake City at 801-799-3000 that seems to be the case.
At one point, Payne threatens to take Wubbels to jail if he doesn’t get the sample, and he accuses her of interfering with a criminal case. “I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow,” Payne says.
After Wubbels consults with several hospital officials and repeats the policy, Payne tells her she is under arrest and grabs her, pulling her arms behind her back and handcuffing her. The footage shows the detective dragging Wubbels out of the hospital and putting her inside a patrol car as she screams, “Help! Help! Somebody help me! Stop! Stop! I did nothing wrong!”
A University of Utah police officer and other officers, who provide security for the hospital, were present at time of the arrest and did not intervene.
As he stands in the hospital parking lot after the arrest, Payne says to another officer that he wonders how this event will affect an off-duty job transporting patients for an ambulance company.
“I’ll bring them all the transients and take good patients elsewhere,” Payne says.
On the SLCPD web site “Chief Mike Brown has this to say about his department’s “ideals”:
“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Salt Lake City Police Department website. I want everyone who lives, works, and visits Salt Lake City to know that my goals are to work hard to enforce a rigorous standard of community-based policing and to belay concern, uncertainty, and doubt about the amazing impact we have as a department charged with establishing and maintaining order and peace in this beautiful city. We hope that you will find this website helpful to know us better and enhance our community partnership.”
UPDATE: This is to clarify what the legal situation was for those who need to know the details.
What Payne did here is patently, inescapably wrong in just about every possible way. Just one year ago the Supreme Court ruled that police must get a warrant or consent in order to draw a person’s blood. It’s utterly inconceivable that Payne, who is a trained phlebotomist with the police, did not know this. According to coverage from the Salt Lake Tribune, Payne acknowledged that he didn’t have probable cause to get a warrant, but nevertheless insisted he had the authority to demand Wubbels draw blood.
But Payne did not have the authority to demand the blood draw and Wubbels was not “interfering” with a police investigation as they insisted at the time. Unsurprisingly, she was released later at the hospital and was not charged with any crime.
In fact, the claim that this blood draw was part of an “investigation” at all adds another layer of revulsion to Payne’s behavior. The unconscious man Payne wanted blood from was not suspected of any crime and had done nothing wrong. He was, in fact, a victim of a crime.
Gray’s terrible injuries were a consequence of a police chase that he had absolutely nothing to do with. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to the coverage of the arrest, Payne said that he wanted to draw blood from Gray to check for drugs in order to “protect” him in some fashion, not to punish him, and that he was ordered to go collect his blood by police in Logan. It is not made clear in any coverage what exactly the police would protecting him from by drawing his blood without his consent while he was unconscious. Payne also said it was his watch commander, Lt. James Tracy, who told him to arrest Wubbels if she refused to draw blood.