It’s hard to believe that anyone could have watched footage of Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne attempt to arrest University of Utah Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels could possibly conclude that Payne could have possibly been in the right. Payne wanted to get blood from the victim of a drunk driving crash, but Wubbels told him that hospital policy didn’t allow blood draws from unconscious patients unless the patient was under arrest or Payne got a warrant.
Believe it or not, a lawyer and freelance writer for The Daily Caller thought that Payne was the real victim, and that Wubbels deserved to be arrested for refusing to let Payne barge in and draw blood from an unconscious man. But any doubt that Payne was completely wrong went out the window when the police chief who initially requested the draw said that Payne pushed for a blood sample even after being told it wasn’t needed right away.
Payne was initially helping the police department in the northern Utah city of Logan–best known as the home of Utah State University–get a blood sample from the victim, truck driver William Gray. According to Logan police chief Gary Jensen, this is routine practice for his department. However, when Payne was told that he would need either a warrant or consent before getting the draw, Jensen said that one of his officers told Payne, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll go another way.”
We know what happened next. Even after Wubbels patiently explained to Payne that hospital policy–which is grounded in both state and federal law–didn’t allow a blood draw without consent or a warrant, Payne roughly arrested her and bundled her into his patrol car. She stayed there for 20 minutes before being released without charges.
Jensen was reiterating what he told CNN on Thursday. He believed that they could get blood from Payne without a warrant, but didn’t know he was unconscious at the time. Jensen said that when Payne told a Logan detective that he was having a hard time getting the sample, that detective told Payne that they had other ways of getting it.
As Jensen saw it, at that point Payne “could have just packed up and gone home.” In a colossal understatement, Jensen said that Payne’s behavior was not in “the best interest of the patient, the nurses, or law enforcement, quite frankly.”
In light of Jensen’s remarks, a conversation between Payne and his watch commander, James Tracy, takes on a new light. Watch it here, courtesy of The Salt Lake Tribune.
During the tussle with Wubbels, Tracy told Payne to arrest her if she didn’t comply. While discussing how to move forward, Payne told Tracy that Logan police weren’t upset about not getting the sample.
And now we know that Payne was told in no uncertain terms that Logan police didn’t need the blood right then. That also means that when Payne kept pressing Wubbels to allow him to get the sample, he knew full well that he was out of line.
Payne is currently the focus of a criminal investigation into the circumstances leading up to Wubbels’ brief arrest. The FBI is also investigating whether Payne and other cops violated anyone’s civil rights. Unless Payne and Tracy can explain why they felt the need to push for that sample despite being essentially told to back off, their lawyers should be in plea bargain talks right now–and Payne and Tracy better be prepared to apologize.
They aren’t the only ones who owe Wubbels an apology. Re’s article was already outrageous even before we knew that Logan police didn’t need the sample right away. In what world would it be acceptable for a cop to barge in and draw blood from an unconscious patient without a warrant and who isn’t under arrest? But now we know that Payne pushed for that sample despite being all but told to back off. If Re and The Daily Caller have anything left in them, they will apologize to Wubbels and delete that article.
(featured image: screenshot via YouTube)