In a frightening set of circumstances, Nurse Alex Wubbels, head nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit, was wrongfully arrested by an aggressive detective for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient — which is the law.
According the The Washington Post, “[Wubbels] got her supervisor on the phone so the detective, Jeff Payne, could hear the decision loud and clear. 'Sir,' said the supervisor, 'You’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.'”
Payne 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," the report stated.
The explosive July 26 encounter was captured on officers’ body cameras, and is now the subject of an internal investigation by the police department, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The videos were released by the Tribune, the Deseret News, and other local media.
The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that blood can only be drawn from drivers for probable cause, with a warrant.
The implications of this wrongful arrest is frightening considering that 24 states have HIV Criminalization Laws. That, coupled with laws that already stigmatize both gay men and people from West Africa from donating blood, doesn’t bode well as we have seen an alarmingly aggressive police state emerge over the past few years.
In Thursday’s news conference, Wubbels’s attorney Karra Porter said that Payne believed he was authorized to collect the blood under “implied consent,” according to the Tribune. But Porter said “implied consent” law changed in Utah a decade ago. And in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood tests were illegal.
Porter called Wubbels’s arrest unlawful. Watch the footage below: