Salt Lake City police apologized Friday for arresting a nurse who, citing hospital policy, refused to let officers draw blood from an unconscious crash victim. The arrest of Alex Wubbels, who was later released without charge, was captured on body camera video that the police chief said was alarming.
The incident happened July 26, when a crash victim was admitted to the University of Utah Hospital burn unit in a coma. Though the man was not a suspect in the wreck, which killed the other driver, police asked for his blood to be drawn.
Wubbels, the charge nurse in the burn unit, presented the officers with a printout of hospital policy on drawing blood and said their request did not meet the criteria. Hospital policy specified police needed either a judge’s order or the patient’s consent, or the patient needed to be under arrest, before obtaining a blood sample.
Wubbels’ attorney, Karra Porter, said Friday the university and Salt Lake City police had agreed to the policy more than a year ago and “the officers here appeared to be unaware of” it.
“There’s no dispute that the blood draw policy was jointly prepared and in effect for quite some time,” Porter said.
After Wubbels refuses, the video shows Salt Lake police Det. Jeff Payne walk quickly over to Wubbels, who backs away as he says, “Oh, please. We’re done here. We’re done. We’re done.”
Wubbels shrieks as Payne forces her out the door toward a police car. She screams for him to stop, saying, “I’ve done nothing wrong! I’ve done nothing wrong! Why is this happening? This is crazy!”
She asks out loud why the officer is “so angry.”
In a police report, Payne said that when he arrived to the hospital, Wubbels said he needed to get permission from the hospital administrators.
After more than an hour of waiting, Payne said, he called his supervisor who advised him to arrest Wubbels if she refused to let him draw a blood sample.
“I told them we wanted to blood sample to protect him, not punish him,” he wrote.
An after-hours message left with the Salt Lake Police Association, the union representing officers, regarding Payne’s status was not immediately returned.