A Utah police officer who — captured on video brutally arresting and dragging on-duty nurse, Alex Wubbels, from the emergency room, after she refused to allow an unconscious patient’s blood to be drawn without a warrant — has now been fired from his job in law enforcement.
Now-former Detective Jeff Payne had previously been fired from his position as a paramedic — over the same explosively controversial incident — and, specifically, the officer’s suggestion caught on audio that he would transport only the most difficult patients to Wubbels’ hospital in apparent retaliation for her refusal.
Video shows Payne telling Wubbels he would “leave with blood in vials or body in tow.”
Now, according to the Associated Press, a Salt Lake City Police spokesperson said Chief Mike Brown ultimately decided to fire Payne after an investigation.
Indeed, news of the detective’s termination comes on the heels of a scathing report issued by the police union, which castigated Payne for violating any number of procedural and ethical lines — but stopped shy of suggesting his behavior blatantly violated Wubbels’ constitutional rights.
“[Payne’s] conduct toward Ms. Wubbels in this incident was inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, disrespectful, and has brought significant disrespute on both [Payne] as a Police Officer and on the Department as a whole,” stated the report obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune in September, and quoted by People Magazine.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that, following the release of that report on September 13, “officers had 20 days to respond. Both men met with department officials in recent weeks to give their sides of the story, and they also interviewed by internal affairs investigators.”
Indeed, the startling scene of the incident, a hospital’s emergency room — and the fact the nurse’s refusal to draw blood from a patient without their consent or a warrant was in line with both facility policy and the law — catapulted the video and Nurse Wubbels into the international spotlight almost the second it was released to the public.
Wubbels has not filed a lawsuit against Payne or the department yet, but has told the media, “[n]othing, by any means, has been off the table.” Wubbels has called for significant reforms to be enacted to protect the public — including medical personnel and others with persistent law enforcement contact — from ill-informed, brutal, and heavy-handed officers.
According to Gephardt Daily, in addition to Payne’s termination, the chief “demoted Lt. James Tracy, who was supervising Payne at the time of the incident.
“Brown wrote in a termination letter to Payne that he had lost faith and confidence in the detective’s ability to serve in the department. The Salt Lake City Police Department has confirmed the firing and demotion.”
Tracy will occupy the position of senior police officer, starting Wednesday, while Payne’s termination was effective today. Unfortunately, such a termination of an officer tends to be largely symbolic — most fired cops find jobs in law enforcement immediately, simply by relocating to a new city or state.
Image: Still shot from police body camera footage.