Nurse Alex Wubbles

FBI joins investigation after detective arrests Utah nurse for refusing to break law and give patient’s blood

The FBI is now involved in a July incident in which a Utah nurse was arrested without cause when she refused to give a Salt Lake detective an unconscious patient’s vial of blood.

On Thursday, Utah District Attorney Sim Gill asked the FBI to join in on the investigation against Detective Jeff Payne of the Salt Lake City Police Department, to see if nurse Alex Wubbles’ civil rights were violated.

“The FBI opened a civil rights/color of law review of the matter when we found out about it in the media,” an FBI news release read.

On July 26, Payne entered the University of Utah Hospital, seeking a vial of blood from an unconscious patient. Citing hospital policy and federal law, Wubbles informed Payen that since the patient was unable to give consent and didn’t give prior permission, she couldn’t hand over blood samples. Payne grabbed Wubbles by the arms and forced her into his police cruiser, a scene caught on video that caused national uproar.

The Salt Lake City mayor, along with other officials, didn’t back Payne up. In fact, they condemned the arrest, claiming Wubbels acted appropriately and only did what instructed to do. Gill’s office is among several others that are conducting a probe into the incident, but he said he needed the assistance of the FBI to looking into the federal law criminal civil rights violation, according to the Washington Post.

“In order to be thorough, and given the gravity of the rights potentially implicated, all issues must be completely examined to restore the public trust currently compromised by the actions depicted in the publicly released video recordings of the incident. Our community and its citizens deserve nothing less.”

In addition to investigating Payne, Gill requested that the FBI look into “other police officers and law enforcement personnel and anyone else acting under the color of authority, or failing to act when imposed with a duty to act.”

Meanwhile, Payne said he was simply acting under the direction of his superior, Lt. James Tracy, who told Payne that Wubbles should be arrested if she didn’t agree to hand over the patient’s vial of blood.

The patient, a truck driver, was in the hospital unconscious after he’d been hit by another driver, who was attempting to flee from a police officer. The truck driver was not suspected of any wrongdoing, and hospital policy states that if authorities don’t have consent to draw blood from patient, they would need a warrant. Payne had no warrant and had no way of asking an unconscious patient for consent.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski apologized to Wubbels in a written statement after viewing the video and assured the community that the the city’s police chief would launch an internal investigation.

Gold Cross Ambulance fired Payne on Tuesday, where he worked as a part-time paramedic, after he allegedly threatened the hospital staff by saying he would “bring them all the transients and take good patients elsewhere” if Wubbels kept refusing to give him the patient’s blood.

Further, the University of Utah Hospital implemented a new rule after the incident, which prohibits police officers from coming into contact with nurses and bars them from entering patient areas.

[Feature Photo: Twitter]