Video of nurse Alex Wubbels being allegedly illegally arrested by police after refusing to take blood from an unconscious pateint has forced an entire department to re-train their officers, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The incident, which occurred earlier this summer, took place at University Hospital in Salt Lak City, Utah.
Detective Jeff Payne and Wubbels argued on camera after Wubbels explained that she can not take blood from an unconscious patient unless the patient has been arrested, has given previous consent, or if there is a warrant. Payne ackowledged that none of those situations were the case, but persisted with threats to penalize Wubbels if she did not cooperate.
The patient in question had been injured in car accident, which left the other driver dead. Police were looking to see if the injured driver had any illegal substances in their system at the time.
“I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow,” Payne can be heard saying on video.
Wubbels consulted with hospital officials before again refusing, leading Payne to arrest her. A University of Utah police officer and Department of Public Safety officers were present but did not obstruct the allegedly illegal apprehension of Wubbels.
An internal investigation in the situation has since been launched. Payne was suspended from the department’s blood-draw program but remains on duty. Other officers in the department have since been re-trained in this area.
In Payne's version of the event, which he submitted as a written report, he contends that he explained the “exigent circumstances and implied consent law” to Wubbels. He says he had been advised by Lt. James Tracy to make the arrest.
An attorney for Wubbels, Karra Porter, noted that "implied consent” has not been the law in Utah since 2007, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the matter in 2016. She also highlighted the fact that the patient was not suspected of a crime.
“I can’t sit on this video and not attempt to speak out both to re-educate and inform,” said Wubbels, who has not filed a claim or lawsuit. Police agencies “need to be having conversations about what is appropriate intervention."
Wubbels added that she has seen other nurses being pressured or harassed by police in the past.
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