crime and punishment

Fire Jeff Payne, Olympian-turned-nurse Alex Wubbels’ supporters cry

Jeff Payne, Alex Wubbels (Deseret News/YouTube)

Jeff Payne, Alex Wubbels (Deseret News/YouTube)

Supporters of University Hospital nurse Alex Shaffer Wubbels are asking Salt Lake Police to fire police detective Jeff Payne. This was after a video of the cop arresting the nurse while on duty went viral.

Before becoming a nurse, Wubbels competed in the Winter Olympics as an Alpine skier in 1998 and 2002. Since 2009, she has been working at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

On July 26, William Gray, 43, was rushed to University Hospital after suffering burns during a collision in Cache County. He works as a truck driver when he is not serving as a reserve officer in the Rigby, Idaho, Police Department, according to the Idaho State Journal, as cited by the Salt Lake Tribune.

The collision was investigated by the Logan police who said a man named Marcos Torres, 26, was fleeing from the Utah Highway Patrol when he crashed a pickup truck into Gray head-on causing an explosion and fire. Torres died at the scene.

While on fire, Gray managed to exit the semi. He was brought to University Hospital’s Burn Unit sedated and in a comatose state when Wubbels was working her shift as a charge nurse, a liaison between patients and doctors and hospital managers.

Payne was sent to University Hospital to determine whether or not Gray had illicit substances in his system at the time of the collision. The detective ordered Wubbels to get a blood sample from the unconscious patient but the nurse told him that blood can be taken only if the patient consents or if there is a warrant that permits the draw.

Although Payne acknowledged that none of the requirements was in place, he insisted that he had the authority to obtain the draw. He even threatened to take Wubbels to jail if he did not get the sample and accused the nurse of interfering with a criminal case.

Wubbels consulted with several hospital officials and repeated the hospital policy. Payne then told her she was under arrest, grabbed her, pulled her arms behind her back, handcuffed her and dragged her out of the hospital as seen in the viral video.

For about 20 minutes, Wubbels was put inside a patrol car although she was not charged. Now, Payne is still on duty with the Police Department and was only suspended from the department’s blood-draw program.

“A blood draw, it just gets thrown around there like it’s some simple thing,” Deseret News quoted Wubbels as saying during a press conference on Aug. 31, Thursday. “But blood is your blood. That’s your property. And when a patient comes in in a critical state, that blood is extremely important and I don’t take it lightly.”

For Wubbels, the only job she has as a health care worker is to keep her patients safe. Watch the video of her being arrested by Payne here:

2 replies »

  1. Hey Alex, as a Trauma Surgeon, I salute you for your courage and complete dedication to protecting your patients. Not always easy, obviously. But you stood.!!! Thanks for your example!! We are always a team, including police officers, so unfortunately, we saw the team fall apart, in a really appalling way. I have to believe, based on 20 years experience , that’s it’s not common when we health care providers come to conflict with the police. I’m so, so sorry that happened to you, there is absolutely no excuse for that. Well.. I’m guessing you will try to take this awful thing and make things change, make it positive, make it about our patients. Of course you would, you’re a nurse! Best angels on earth!


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