Utah Detective Fired Over Arrest Of Nurse Is Suing For $1.5M
Salt Lake City, UT – The Salt Lake Police Department officer who was fired for arresting the Utah nurse Alex Wubbels in a viral video is suing the city for wrongful termination and $1.5 million and wants his job back.
Jeff Payne, the former Salt Lake Police Department detective, said many people have a misunderstanding of what went down in July of 2017 according to KSTU.
“People think I just walked in an lost it,” Payne told KSTU in a sit down interview.
The incident occurred on July 26, 2017 when Wubbels told now-former Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne that hospital policy didn't allow for a warrantless blood draw.
The unconscious patient was Reserve Rigby Police Officer Bill Gray, who was working his full-time job as a truck driver when he was injured.
Gray's tractor-trailer was struck head-on by a fleeing vehicle that was being pursued by the Utah Highway Patrol.
His truck burst into flames, and Officer Gray was badly burned in the crash. He died two months later.
Hospital policy required either a patient's consent, or a search warrant, for a blood draw. Det. Payne had neither.
Det. Payne was not properly trained by his department of a recent change in case law which required warrants for blood draws.
Lieutenant James Tracy ordered Det. Payne to arrest nurse Wubbles, and he did.
No charges were actually filed, and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown apologized to Wubbels shortly after the incident.
Following the incident, hospital policy was immediately changed to include a provision that prohibits law enforcement from dealing directly with nurses.
The Salt Lake City Police Department has also changed its blood draw policy to match the hospital's policy, since the incident. And police immediately began trying to restore the relationship between nurses and police officers, according to NBC News.
Det. Payne was fired from his job as a police officer, after an internal investigation found that he violated departmental policies.
Lieutenant James Tracy, who was Det. Payne's supervisor, was demoted to police officer for ordering an unlawful arrest.
Now, Payne says that he should never have been fired.
“She says she's just doing what her bosses tell her to do and I acknowledged that and said that's what I'm doing,” said Payne, according to KSTU.
Payne said that Wubbels then asked a University of Utah police officer and hospital security to intervene but both declined.
After two hours of haggling, Payne said he decided to make the arrest of Wubbels.
“The decision was made to arrest her. I had to do something and unfortunately, a lot of people didn't like what I did,” he said, according to KSTU.
Payne said he used the level of force that was one step higher than the resisting nurse to subdue her.
“I felt that I had done everything within the law and within policy,” said Payne, according to KSTU.
“I thought it was very ironic that I was following a policy that was in effect. They didn’t like it, so two weeks after the incident, they changed the policy and still fire me,” said Payne, according to KSTU. “I think terminating me was extremely excessive. They were not happy. They said it was an embarrassment, you know, what I did. Okay. If I don`t know the proper way to handle that situation, then that`s a training issue.”
Payne said that the police chief, Mike Brown, folded under public pressure from the video. Payne said the pressure was even more after Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski got involved, according to KSTU.
Wubbels reached a $500,000 settlement with the city and the university that owns the hospital in November, according to National Public Radio.