A Utah nurse said she was scared to death when a police officer handcuffed and dragged her screaming from a hospital after she refused to allow a blood draw on an unconscious patient.
Alex Wubbels said the arrest captured on video that drew attention amid an ongoing conversation about police use of force shows that bullying doesn’t just happen in schools.
“This cop bullied me; he bullied me to the utmost extreme,” Wubbels said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. “And nobody stood in his way.”
The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor have apologized and changed department policies in line with the guidance Wubbels was adhering to in the July 26 incident.
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.”
Salt Lake City police Det. Jeff Payne has been suspended from the department’s blood-draw unit, but remains on duty as a detective in investigations amid reviews by the department and a civilian review board.
Police Chief Mike Brown said his department takes the matter very seriously. “I was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer,” Brown said.
‘You’re under arrest!’
Body-camera video shows Wubbels, who works in the burn unit, calmly explaining that she could not take blood from a patient who had been injured in a deadly 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.
Wubbels told Payne that a patient was required to give consent for a blood sample to determine intoxication or be under arrest.
Otherwise, she said police needed a warrant. Payne insisted.
The dispute ended with Payne saying, “We’re done, you’re under arrest” and physically moving her 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 for over an hour.
“It’s not an excuse. It definitely doesn’t forgive what happened,” police spokesperson Christina Judd said.