SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 7, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has called on the FBI to investigate the case of a Salt Lake City Police officer who forcibly arrested a nurse who refused his demands to perform an illegal blood draw on an unconscious patient.
In a letter released Thursday afternoon, Gill stated that all agencies and issues in the case should be ” … completely examined to restore the public trust currently compromised by the actions depicted in the publicly released video recordings of the incident…. Our community and its citizens deserve nothing less.”
On July 26, SLCPD Detective Jeff Payne handcuffed University Hospital burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels and forced her into his patrol car after she read him the list of three conditions that would allow her to provide the blood: a search or arrest warrant, or the patient’s verbal permission for the blood draw. Wubbels told Payne his request met none of those conditions.
Body cameras and phone recordings captured the moments when he arrested her as she yelled, protesting his treatment of her and declaring her innocence of any wrongdoing.
The video in question was released last week, catching both Salt Lake City’s Mayor and Police Chief unaware. The story made headlines around the globe, and became the subjects of news reports and talk shows. It drew social media venting by members of the medical community and the general public.
Payne and another SLCPD employee were put on administrative leave, and Gold Cross, an ambulance company that employed Payne part-time, fired him after the video recording revealed that he had threatened to bring only transients to University Hospital, and take the “good” patients elsewhere.
University Hospital praised its nurse’s defense of her patient’s rights, and changed its policy so police officers will deal with administrators, not nurses.
The Rigby (Idaho) Police Department also commended Wubbels. The burn patient, William Gray, was a part-time department employee who had been badly injured in a fiery crash in Cache County, caused by a man who was fleeing police, and who died in the collision.
Payne already faces investigation by internal and external sources.
The full body of Gill’s letter, addressed to Eric Barnhart, special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Salt Lake City, follows:
We request you investigate the action of Det. Payne, other police officers and law enforcement personnel and anyone else acting under the color of authority, of failing to act when imposed with a duty to act.
We request your investigation to examine and consider whether actions by Det. Payne, other police officers and law enforcement personnel and anyone else acting under the color of authority constitutes criminal conduct, criminal civil rights violations, or other violations of the law.
We request an investigation in addition to any other criminal or other investigation of the matter. In order to be thorough, and given the gravity of the rights potentially implicated, all issues must be completely examined to restore the public trust currently compromised by the actions depicted in the publicly released video recordings of the incident. It is essential that all individuals and institutions associated with this incident should be investigated to document the roles they played in the incident to prevent such a thing from happening again. Our community and its citizens deserve nothing less. Thank you for your cooperation with this request.