A Utah police department fired an officer Tuesday for handcuffing and dragging a screaming nurse out of a hospital in July after she refused to draw an unconscious patient’s blood without consent.
Footage from Detective Jeff Payne’s body camera showed his violent arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels inside University of Utah’s hospital on July 26. Payne handcuffed Wubbels and dragged her to his patrol vehicle only for her to be released minutes later with no charges. The Salt Lake City Police Department found both Payne and his watch commander Lt. James Tracey were guilty of misconduct. Chief Mike Brown fired Payne and demoted Tracey to the rank of officer, CNN reported.
“The decision … is in keeping with the high level of accountability we owe the people of Salt Lake City,” Mayor Jackie Biskupski, a Democrat, said in a statement. “In making his decision, I am confident Chief Brown balanced the unique stresses each of our police officers deal with daily, and the responsibility they have as leaders in our community.”
The unconscious patient was identified as truck driver Bill Gray. He had been involved in a freeway accident earlier in the day during a police chase. Gray suffered severe injuries from the crash, but was not at fault or a suspect in the police investigation. Payne was sent to the hospital in order to test Gray’s blood to see if he was intoxicated.
Utah law requires that police can only draw blood if the authorities possess a court order, if the patient is under arrest, or if the patient consents. Wubbels refused to draw Gray’s blood because no judge had ordered the blood drawn and Gray was not under arrest, nor could the man give consent since he was unconscious.
Gray later died from his injuries on Sept. 25.
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