SLCPD officers in nurse’s arrest violated 6 policies, internal investigation finds

Photo: Salt Lake City Police

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 13, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupsi on Wednesday announced that an internal investigation found that two Salt Lake City Police officials involved with the July 26 arrest of a University Hospital nurse are guilty of violating multiple policies in the incident.

A second investigation, by a civilian review board, also judged the officers to have violated the policies, Biskupski said.

The violations focus on areas including conduct unbecoming by a police employee, courtesy in public context, a law enforcement code of ethics, a city policy regarding standards of conduct for employees, and a policy regarding arrests, misdemeanor citations and situations requiring a report.

Information about the July incident became public in late August with the release of body camera and phone recordings of the incident. SLCPD Detective Jeff Payne came to the University Hospital burn unit to get a blood sample from an unconscious patient who had been involved in a fatal accident earlier that day in Cache County.

Nurse Alex Wubbels informed Payne of a list of requirements, any one of which had to be met before she could legally turn over the blood. Options included patient consent, an arrest warrant or a search warrant.

Payne conferred by phone or radio with his watch commander, then took Wubbels under his physical control, handcuffed her, and forced her into his squad car as she screamed, arguing that she had done nothing wrong.

Wubbels was released later, with no formal charges filed.

Biskupski and SLCPD Chief Mike Brown both said on Aug. 31 that they were unaware of the incident until the video was released and went viral. Payne and his watch commander, Lt. James Tracy, were both put on administrative leave the following day.

The video has been an international embarrassment to Salt Lake City, with negative reactions to the SLCPD officers’ action coming in from health professionals around the world, from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s office, and from the general public, including viewers of talk shows that focused on the incident.

Payne and Tracy will have 20 days to respond to the findings that they violated policies, Biskupsi said; then the investigation findings will be turned over to Brown, who will decide the two men’s employment future with the SLCPD.

A criminal investigation in the case is ongoing.

“This incident is a setback for us, and one we will need to recover from,” Biskupski said Wednesday, near the end of her comments.

Biskupski also said she will not weigh in, publicly or privately, on the findings of the investigations, in order to allow Brown to make his own decision without feeling pressured.

Wubbels has not ruled out her own lawsuit against the officers, she has said.

To see the video, click here.

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