Officer lost control before arresting Utah nurse

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah police chief will decide any possible punishment for an officer caught on video dragging a nurse from a hospital and handcuffing her after a review board found he lost control and got aggressive.

It appears Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne became upset during a long wait to draw blood from a patient and his frustration spilled over after nurse Alex Wubbels refused under hospital policy, the report from the independent Police Civilian Review board report said.

“His verbal actions were loud, aggressive, and overly mission driven,” the report released Wednesday states, adding that Payne “very clearly lost control of his emotions.”

That report and another from the Salt Lake City Police Department’s internal affairs investigators will be considered by police chief Mike Brown as he weighs possible punishment that could include firing.

Payne’s lawyer, Greg Skordas, said Thursday those conclusions were speculation.

“When I look at a police report, I think just the facts. You don’t need that kind of stuff,” he said. Payne will go before the chief on Sept. 25 to give his side of the story.

Payne’s only previous black mark in his 27-year tenure with Salt Lake City police was a written reprimand from 2013, Skordas said.

The report also faults supervisor Lt. James Tracy, who told Payne to arrest the nurse if she didn’t allow the blood draw, for not seeking legal advice on drawing blood from the car-crash victim without a warrant or formal consent. Police have since said Wubbels was right, and changed their policy.

Tracy’s attorney Ed Brass didn’t have immediate comment, saying he hadn’t been provided a copy of the report.

Salt Lake police opened an internal investigation a day after the July 26 arrest. Payne and Tracy were put on paid administrative leave after widespread attention followed the release of the body-camera video by Wubbels and her lawyer on Aug. 31.

The civilian review board report said that a third unnamed officer missed a chance to step in and calm things down despite a 2016 advisement for officers to intervene when their colleagues become frustrated with the words “code 909.”

Salt Lake Police spokeswoman Christina Judd said that’s been part of the department’s training on how to de-escalate situations rather than using force. It’s envisioned as a more subtle way for officers to help a situation that could be veering out of control, she said, though she didn’t know exactly how often it’s used.

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