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Utah police probe arrest of nurse who refused to give patient's blood

By
Danielle Haynes

Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Utah police have launched an internal investigation after an officer arrested a nurse for refusing to give him a vial of a patient's blood without a warrant, officials said Friday.

Alex Wubbels, a nurse at the University of Utah Hospital, held a press conference Thursday to share body camera footage of the incident.

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Salt Lake City Police detective Jeff Payne went to the medical center July 26 seeking vials of blood for an investigation involving a truck driver who'd been injured in a car crash and taken to University Hospital.

The car crash involved another vehicle driven by a suspect who had been fleeing police and veered into oncoming traffic. The suspect died in the crash.

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In the video, Wubbels is seen seeking recommendations from her supervisors and other hospital officials on the policy. Payne, though, insists on getting the sample and puts Wubbels in handcuffs for "interfering with a criminal investigation."

Wubbels said she told Payne she would not hand over the blood because he didn't have a warrant or patient consent, and wasn't arresting the patient.

"If they needed blood, then they needed to go through to proper channels to take it," she said

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"I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow," Payne told her on the video.

The officer then takes her to his police vehicle as she cries out, "Stop! I've done nothing wrong."

"This is crazy. This is crazy. Why is he so angry?" she continues.

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Payne released Wubbels after 20 minutes.

At her news conference, Wubbels said her arrest amounted to "harassment" and called for better training of police officers. She said no legal action has been filed against Payne or the police department.

"I just feel betrayed, I feel angry. I feel a lot of things. And I am still confused. I'm a healthcare worker. The only job I have is to keep my patients safe. A blood draw, it just gets thrown around there like it's some simple thing. 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," she said.

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said the department's chief, Mike Brown, called the video "very alarming."

The department launched an internal probe of Payne's actions and suspended him from the blood draw program.

The incident drew attention from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who called the footage "disturbing."

"We trust that the [Salt Lake City Police Department] will quickly respond and rectify the situation," he said on Twitter.

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