This Nurse Was Arrested For Refusing To Let Police Draw Blood From An Unconscious Man

Nurse Alex Wubbels was not criminally charged in the incident.

A Utah nurse released police bodycam footage from a July incident where an officer dragged her outside a hospital, put handcuffs on her, and put her into a patrol car for refusing to give a patient's blood to police. / Via Karra Porter via Salt Lake City Police Department

The July 26 footage, released Thursday, shows Alex Wubbels, a nurse at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, in a standoff with Detective Jeff Payne over whether the officer could draw blood from a patient who was unconscious following a car crash.

Wubbels tells Payne in the video that hospital policy dictates that blood cannot be drawn from an unconscious patient unless they are under arrest or there is a warrant signed by a judge allowing the blood to be taken.

Payne insists that Wubbels let him take the blood, threatening to arrest the nurse if she did not comply.

"I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow," Payne says.

The video footage shows Wubbels, who has worked at University Hospital since 2009, calling several hospital officials who repeated the policy on taking blood from an unconscious patient.

“Sir, you’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse," a supervisor is heard telling Payne.

"We’re done here," Payne responds as he grabs Wubbels by her arms, leading her outside the building as she screams, "Help! Help! Somebody help me! Stop! I did nothing wrong. This is crazy!"

Once outside, Payne pulled Wubbels' hands behind her back, handcuffed her, and put her inside a patrol car, telling her she obstructed justice by preventing him from doing his job.

"I'm also obligated to my patients," she tells the officer. "It's not up to me."

Wubbels — who was not criminally charged — released the footage Thursday at a press conference with her lawyer, where she called on police officers to improve their treatment of hospital workers.

"I just feel betrayed, I feel angry. I feel a lot of things," Wubbels said. "And I am still confused. I’m a health care worker. The only job I have is to keep my patients safe."

“I can’t sit on this video and not attempt to speak out both to reeducate and inform,” Karra Porter, Wubbels' attorney, said to reporters. Police agencies “need to be having conversations about what is appropriate intervention.”

"A blood draw, it just gets thrown around there like it’s some simple thing," Wubbels, who competed in the Winter Olympics in 1998 and 2002 as an Alpine skier, said Thursday, according to the Desert News. "But blood is your blood. That’s your property."

On Friday, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement that "within 24 hours" of the incident police began reviewing the footage and taking action.

After consulting with the district attorney, the department agreed to conduct an investigation "into any criminal acts that may have taken place during the incident," the department said in a statement.

In the meantime, the department said two employees have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. One of them, the city said, was the officer in the video.

UPDATE: Two employees are on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.

The officer was also suspended from the blood draw program and the department's policy has been updated. He added that all other officers in the program have reviewed the new policy.

"We will do what is necessary to fully investigate the issue, uphold the integrity of the Salt Lake City Police Department," Brown said in a statement.

Brown also said he was "alarmed" by the video.

"I am sad at the rift this has caused between law-enforcement and the nurses we work so closely with. I want to be clear, we take this very seriously," Brown said.

"It is my sincere desire to get back to a very cooperative, respectful, and friendly relationship with our 'brothers and sisters in white' we work so closely with," he added. "Salt Lake City Police Officers have a very soft spot in our hearts for all medical professionals. We know that if we are ever hurt in the line of duty, it is their caring hands that will perhaps save our lives one day."

On Friday, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski released a statement reacting to the video footage.

"What I saw is completely unacceptable to the values of my Administration and of the values of the Salt Lake City Police Department," Biskupski said. "I extend a personal apology to Ms. Wubbles [sic] for what she has been through for simply doing her job."

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted Friday that Wubbels' arrest "is disturbing."

"We trust that [Salt Lake City Police] will quickly respond and rectify this situation," he tweeted.

Biskipski said a civilian review board is also investigating the incident.

"We cannot allow an incident like this divide our community or taint the good work of the SLCPD," the mayor said in a statement.

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