The police officer who harassed a nurse for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious trucker has officially been fired.
The announcement was made on Tuesday, October 10th, by the Salt Lake City Police Department in Utah.
According to a police department press release, Police Chief Mike Brown chose to fire Detective Jeff Payne, and demote his supervisor, following an internal investigation of the now-viral arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels.
During the investigation, it was determined that Detective Payne violated department policy when he placed Wubbels under arrest for refusing to draw blood samples from unconscious truck driver William Gray, who was struck head-on by a pickup truck that was fleeing from police.
The arrest happened back in late July at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City and was captured on an officer’s body cam.
In the body cam footage, Detective Jeff Payne can be seen demanding Wubbels to retrieve a sample of the unconscious trucker’s blood.
Truck driver William Gray, who was also a reserve police officer in Idaho, was not suspected of any wrongdoing in the accident, nor was he being placed under arrest. Because of this, Wubbels refused to draw the blood and got on the phone with her supervisor. The supervisor then confirmed that the blood draw would be against hospital policy unless the officer obtained a warrant.
Detective Payne then threatened Wubbels, saying he would “either go away with blood in vials or body in tow.”
After her continued refusal, Detective Payne accused Wubbels of “interfering with a criminal investigation” and grabbed her aggressively, escorting her to the police cruiser over her screams of protest.
Shortly after the incident, Wubbels was released from handcuffs. She was not charged in the incident.
On August 31st, nearly a month after the arrest took place, the body cam video went public and drew mainstream attention. At that time, both Payne and his supervisor were placed on paid administrative leave.
“You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgment (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience),” wrote Police Chief Brown in Payne’s letter of termination.
The letter stated that Brown was “deeply troubled” by Payne’s “inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, [and] disrespectful” actions during the course of the investigation and that such actions have brought “significant disrepute” to the department.
“[Your actions during the investigation] call into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the department,” continued Brown in the letter.
“A blood draw, it just gets thrown around there like it’s some simple thing,” said Wubbels of the incident.
“But your 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 continued, explaining that Gray arrived at the hospital in serious condition with burns over 46% of his body.
Gray eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away on Monday, September 25th.
The Rigby Police Department, where Gray worked as a reserve officer, says he was “truly the best of mankind. Always willing to help, always willing to go the extra mile. Bill was a big man, with a bigger heart. Everything about him was generous and kind.”
Detective Payne’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, who officially ordered the arrest of nurse Wubbels, also faces disciplinary actions as a result of the blood drawing incident. He has since been demoted from Lieutenant, back down to Officer.
“Tracy made an impulsive decision in ordering Payne to arrest Wubbels without first taking time to understand the facts of the situation and the law,” wrote Brown in his disciplinary letter.
“Your order created chaos and unnecessarily escalated the situation… Your lack of judgment and leadership in this matter is unacceptable… As a result, I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the department,” Brown added.
As of September 10th, Payne had been officially fired, and Tracy, officially demoted.
This was not Payne’s first disciplinary issue within the department. Back in 2013, an internal-affairs investigation showed that he had been sexually harassing a female co-worker in a way that was “persistent and severe.”
Payne was also recently fired from his part-time paramedic job after being caught on camera saying that he would take the “good patients” to other hospitals, leaving all the transient and homeless patients for the University of Utah hospital, where Wubbels worked.
The FBI is still conducting criminal investigations into the incident to determine whether there were any civil rights violations.
The incident also prompted the University of Utah Hospital to change its policies, reported ABC News. The hospital now prohibits direct contact between nurses and police officers.