We’re done here

You’ve probably seen the video of the Salt Lake City cop losing his temper when a burn unit nurse explained why she couldn’t give him a blood sample from an unconscious patient. You’ve probably seen how he arrested her with considerable violence because she was doing her job.

Salt Lake City cops now have to stay out of patient contact areas and away from nurses at that hospital.

Gordon Crabtree, interim chief executive of the hospital, said at a Monday news conference that he was “deeply troubled” by the arrest and manhandling of burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26. In accord with hospital policy and the law, she had refused to allow a Salt Lake City police officer to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient. Wubbels obtained a copy of the body cam video of the confrontation and, after consulting her lawyer, the hospital and police officials, released it last week.

“This will not happen again,” Crabtree said, praising Wubbels for “putting her own safety at risk” to “protect the rights of patients.”

Margaret Pearce, chief nursing officer for the University of Utah hospital system, said she was “appalled” by the officer’s actions and has already implemented changes in hospital protocol to avoid any repetition.

The “officer”‘s actions were pretty amazing. There was no arrest, there was no calm “if you don’t comply I will be forced to arrest you”; there was only a shouty “We’re done here!” and an assault.

The incident, which has attracted nationwide attention in part because of the dramatic video, involved Detective Jeff Payne, who persisted in demanding a blood sample from an unconscious truck driver at the hospital who had earlier been involved in an accident stemming from police pursuit of a suspect.

The hospital and the law in Utah and nationwide require police to have a warrant or permission from the patient to draw a blood sample in such circumstances. Payne had neither.

After Wubbels politely and repeatedly read hospital policy to him and had a supervisor back her up on a speakerphone connection, Payne snapped. He seized hold of the nurse, shoved her out of the building and cuffed her hands behind her back. A bewildered Wubbels screamed “help me” and “you’re assaulting me” as the detective forced her into an unmarked car and accused her of interfering with an investigation.

It has occurred to me to wonder if Payne would have done that if Hubbels had been male and a doctor. I can’t know, of course, but I bet he wouldn’t. I bet he saw her as doubly an underling and someone who should do what she’s told when a cop does the telling, no matter what the law says. I bet he’s that kind of bully.

He also, of course, saw her as someone he could overpower easily. We can see and hear that he’s that kind of bully.

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