A nurse at a Utah hospital says she was assaulted by a police officer last month after declining to give him a sample of an unconscious patient’s blood because he had neither a warrant nor the patient’s consent, local media reported.
Video of the July 26 incident from Salt Lake City police officers’ body-worn cameras showed Alex Wubbels, dressed in blue medical scrubs, consulting with colleagues before showing the waiting officers a printout of the University of Utah Hospital’s policy on sharing of blood samples to test for alcohol or drugs.
Wubbels then explained to the officers that under the policy, which she says was agreed to by the police department, she would need a warrant, the patient’s consent, or the patient would need to be under arrest.
“I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do, that’s all,” Wubbels tells the officers, noting they did not meet any of those criteria.
One officer, identified in media reports as detective Jeff Payne, appears angered and grabs at Wubbels before gripping her around her torso. “We’re done,” Payne says. “You’re under arrest.”
He then drags Wubbels outside as she screams.
“Somebody help me!” Wubbels says as Payne pushes her against a wall and handcuffs her. “You’re assaulting me! Stop! I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Karra Porter, Wubbels’ lawyer, said at a news conference on Thursday, where the video footage was shown, that the nurse followed the law and the police were wrong, according to the Deseret News. Wubbels said her first duty was to her patients.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement on Friday that he was “alarmed” by the video footage and that the department had apologized. Payne was suspended from blood-collecting duties while an internal investigation continues, Brown said.
In a separate statement, Mayor Jackie Biskupski called the incident “completely unacceptable” and extended an apology to Wubbels for her ordeal.
The University of Utah said in a statement on Thursday that it supported Wubbels “and her decision to focus first and foremost on the care and well-being of her patient.” The hospital said it had created a new policy with police that would preclude officers from arriving in person to seek blood samples.
The patient was a truck driver who arrived comatose at the hospital burns unit after a crash with a vehicle being driven by someone fleeing police, the Deseret News reported.