Earlier this year, dramatic footage emerged of a nurse from Utah being aggressively dragged from a hospital by a police officer. The horrifying 19 minute footage of the incident, which was caught on the police officers’ body cameras, instantly went viral.
Nurse Alex Wubbels was left traumatized after she was forcefully removed from the hospital where she works. Her crime? Doing her job. Salt Lake City police officer, Jeff Payne, entered Wubbel’s hospital in order to take a blood sample from a patient who had been involved in a severe car accident. The patient, a truck driver who had sustained serious injuries, was innocent of any crime having been hit head-on by a fleeing vehicle as the police chased it. The suspect who police were attempting to catch died at the scene. Because of this, the police didn’t have a probable cause for arrest and thus couldn’t obtain a search warrant. Payne wanted to take blood from the injured patient in order to “protect” him, but Wubbels wasn’t prepared to allow this to happen as Payne didn’t have the unconscious patient’s consent. Frustrated by Wubbels’ failure to comply (or let the officer break the law), Payne dramatically arrested her for obstructing justice at the Utah University Hospital where she was on duty. Despite the fact that Wubbels had followed protocol, she was aggressively handcuffed outside the hospital as she screamed and shouted, and was then placed into a police car. She was later released without charge. Despite being released, Wubbels wanted the incident to be investigated thoroughly to prevent a similar situation occurring in the future. She did not press charges against Payne but instead worked to have officers educated on unlawful behavior.
“I want to see people do the right thing first and I want to see this be a civil discourse. If that’s not something that’s going to happen and there is refusal to acknowledge the need for growth and the need for re-education, then we will likely be forced to take that type of step. But people need to know that this is out there.”
However, it has now been confirmed that Jeff Payne’s employment with Salt Lake City Police Department has been terminated. A Salt Lake City Police spokesman announced that Chief Mike Brown made the decision to terminated Payne’s employment after a thorough investigation into the incident, which has been labelled a huge embarrassment for the department. “You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgment (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience), which calls into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the department,” Brown wrote. However, Payne plans to contest this decision. His lawyer, Greg Skordas, has highlighted Payne’s 27-year history with the force and questioned whether this one incident was enough to warrant his termination. Payne was happy to be disciplined for the error of judgement, but believes his removal from the force is unfair. Skordas also stated that had the body camera footage not existed, his client would still be employed. He claims that the sensationalist way in which it went viral online has contributed to Payne’s dismissal because it forced the police department to act in reprimanding Payne. This isn’t the first time that Payne has found himself under fire at work. In 2013, he was the subject of an internal investigation after a female co-worker claimed that he had sexually harassed her in a “persistent and severe” way. However, he has also received praise for solving many burglary cases, and especially in 1998 when he was shot in the shoulder during a traffic stop. Meanwhile, Wubbels got her wish, as Salt Lake City investigated the way in which their officers behave whilst on duty. They announced later that their policies have been changed to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
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