Utah Officer Fired for Arresting Nurse Who Followed Policy
The Salt Lake City Police Officer who arrested a nurse for following hospital rules has been fired and his superior demoted.
The story spread across the internet last month after University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels and her attorney released the body cam footage of her July 26th arrest. In the video, Detective Jeff Payne is arguing with Wubbels over hospital policy. Payne was investigating a fatal crash and demanded a blood sample from an unconscious victim. Wubbels explained that the hospital policy, as agreed upon by the police department, only allows blood to be drawn with patient consent, a warrant, or if the patient is in official custody. As none of the factors applied to the patient, Wubbels refused the request and Payne arrested her, saying she was interfering with the investigation.
On Tuesday, following an internal investigation, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown informed Payne that he would be terminated. In a statement, Chief Brown noted that Payne's actions harmed the department's relationship with the hospital,
Your conduct toward Ms. Wubbels in this incident was inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, disrespectful, and has brought significant disrepute on both you as a Police Officer and on the Department as a whole. You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgement (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience) which calls into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the Department in a manner which inspires the requisite trust, respect, and confidence.
The fact that you elected to conduct yourself in such a way, in a non-hostile situation that lacked urgency and immediacy and was relatively benign, causes me to doubt your ability to properly exercise discretion and good judgment and successfully perform your job duties going forward, especially in the more stressful circumstances that you (and every officer) would undoubtedly encounter in the future.
Chief Brown also reprimanded Lt. James Tracy, Payne's watch commander who advised him during the incident. Brown noted that Tracy, who approved the arrest, should have held off on any action until he could arrive at the scene to gather information himself. For his part, Tracy was removed from his supervisory position.
Greg Skordas, Payne's attorney, stated that his client admits the mistake, but feels that termination is too drastic of a response, telling BuzzFeed,
We acknowledge that he could have and should have acted differently. We don't feel that termination is appropriate for Jeff's conduct. But we agree that some discipline was in order.
Payne has been disciplined for misconduct in the past, receiving a formal reprimand in 2013 for harassing a female officer with unwanted physical contact and a disparaging and profane email.