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Utah police have released a disturbing video of officers handcuffing and arresting a Salt Lake City nurse for refusing to obey a clearly unconstitutional order. The body camera footage, which shows Detective Jeff Payne arresting the nurse — whose name is Alex Wubbels — for refusing to allow the officer to draw blood from an unconscious patient without a warrant.

According to the Washington Post, Payne has been suspended from the department’s blood draw unit, and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown called the video “very alarming.” Nonetheless, Payne remains on active duty pending an inquiry.

Wubbels has retained an attorney, but states at this time that she does not want to sue the police; rather, she wants to make sure the police department is properly trained to avoid incidents like hers in the future.

Why the confrontation occurred

According to the Deseret News, the confrontation occurred July 26 after a car crash that followed a high-speed police chase. A vehicle driven by an unnamed suspect was fleeing from police in Cache County when it crossed into on coming traffic and suffered a head-on collision with a truck. The suspect was killed in the crash, and the truck driver was taken to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. The truck driver was severely burned in the crash, so he was sedated and admitted to the hospital’s burn unit.

For reasons that are not immediately clear — the truck driver was not suspected of a crime and the suspect was deceased — Payne was ordered by his supervisors to obtain a blood sample from the truck driver and to arrest anyone who attempted to interfere.

There was only one problem: Payne had no warrant, lacked probable cause to get a warrant, and the truck driver was unconscious and thus could not consent to having his blood drawn. That led to the dramatic confrontation caught on video:

In the video, which was captured by the bodycam of another officer who was present, Wubbels can be seen patiently and professionally explaining to Payne that without a warrant, she cannot allow him to draw blood from an unconscious patient. Wubbels additionally enlisted the help of a supervisor and hospital officials, who confirmed that it was both contrary to hospital policy and illegal for Payne to draw blood from this patient without a warrant.

Throughout the series of phone calls, Payne grows increasingly agitated at having his authority questioned and repeatedly threatens to arrest Wubbels. At one point, Wubbels’ supervisor asks Payne to stop threatening a nurse who is trying to do her job, at which point Payne visibly loses his temper, slaps the phone out of Wubbels’ hand, and begins to handcuff and arrest her.

In the video, Wubbels exclaims as she is being arrested, “This is crazy. This is crazy. Why is he so angry?”

What the law says
In June 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that requiring drivers to submit to a blood test without a warrant was unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito reasoned that, unlike breathalyzer tests, blood tests are sufficiently invasive that without a warrant, they constitute an “unreasonable search” and thus violate the Fourth Amendment. The court held that this is true even when a driver is lawfully arrested for drunk driving:

Blood tests are significantly more intrusive, and their reasonableness must be judged in light of the availability of the less invasive alternative of a breath test. Respondents have offered no satisfactory justification for demanding the more intrusive alternative without a warrant. …

Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests, we conclude that a breath test, but not a blood test, may be administered as a search incident to a lawful arrest for drunk driving.
Notably, the court rejected an approach favored by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, writing in dissent, who would have permitted police to engage in a case-by-case analysis. The court’s reasoning was thus clear: Police must obtain either a warrant or consent before drawing a suspect’s blood sample.

How the law applies here
In this case, the truck driver was not even a suspect in the case. The police had no probable cause to obtain a warrant for his blood because he was not suspected of doing anything wrong. And because he was unconscious, he was legally incapable of giving consent.

And while a patient is unconscious and in the care of a hospital, the hospital can be held legally liable if they allow patients in their care to have their rights violated — including by police.

Following Payne’s illegal order thus could have subjected both Wubbels and the hospital to a lawsuit.

What it means
Payne was a police phlebotomist, which means that his main job function was to draw blood samples for his police department. It is troubling, at the very least, that someone whose primary job is to draw blood samples for the police would not know that the law requires police officers to obtain a warrant or consent before drawing blood.

Watching the video, it seems clear that Payne was simply unwilling to accept that someone would question his orders, no matter how reasonable or polite they were being — or how correct they were, as a matter of law. The fact that such an individual remains on active duty in spite of a troubling attitude and complete ignorance of clear constitutional limits on his authority is troubling to civil libertarians. Part of protecting good, responsible police is holding bad, power-hungry police officers to account so that the citizenry maintains faith in the overall good will of their local police department.

What comes next
Wubbels was ultimately released without being criminally charged, but she plans to fight to prevent others from being intimidated or arrested for refusing to follow illegal orders from police.

Wubbels maintains that for now, she does not want to sue, she wants to make a point. According to the Deseret News, when asked if she planned to sue, she said:

I think right now, I believe in the goodness of society. I want to see people do the right thing first and I want to see this be a civil discourse. And 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.

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19 Comments
19 Comments
Julie Beach September 2, 2017
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Any person should be able to see it. This is a controlling, bullying and mostrous behaviour and treatment from the Police. The Policeman who became agitated and impatient is a totally disorderly behaviour that imposes and violates the care of hospital staff given to patients, the patient. The nurse and other official staff were protecting the rights and safety of their patient. If that was my family member and the police were demanding a blood test without a warrant of police permission I would take this to the higher court. Horrible treatment by police to people who work to save lives.
ted September 2, 2017
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Troubling. Wubbels was correct, however it was not wubbels respondibility to refuse the officer request. Why the officer needed the sample, is no imaterial at this point. apparently their was a request by the PD. What the question is, why did'nt the newspaper further investigate before releasing the story. none of the people were going any where? Why deliberately throw suspicion against our law enforcement officers unless the investigating reporter has some agenda.Lord knows there are a multitude of agendas out there and that has become this countries main news. To our misfortune. Why not mention Trumps accomplishes to date.? Unbeknowst to all, they are there and shame upon a shameless media for not reporting them. In this world at point in time and there will be a major reckoning.
Tim Davis September 2, 2017
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Kudos to the nurse for doing her job. She had far more patience than I would have had. I'm a law and order guy, but Payne looks and acts like a bully. He should be fired and the hospital should sue. That's the only way anyone on the force will learn. With today's attitude of abusing the Constitution and the law without consequences, a simple slap on the wrist and additional cop classes are worthless.
Bruce September 1, 2017
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And you don't think we live in a 'POLICE STATE' If I were the nurse I would get the biggest baddest lawyer I could find.
deb September 1, 2017
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Thnis is BS!! The "hospital policy is interfering with what he needs to do????" The hospital policy that the nurse stated IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW! I am completely in support of police officers, but this was a PIG!!
AHZZ September 1, 2017
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Cop F'd Up ~ BIG TIME!
SaintlyMic September 1, 2017
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I hope that police officer is arrested and placed in jail for abusing and assaulting that nurse.
Dave September 1, 2017
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Someone needs to sue the ass off this insecure, pathetic excuse of a cop!
SaintlyMic September 1, 2017
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The truck driver should sue the police.
Ricardo Feliu September 1, 2017
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This is POLICE ABUSE at the finest. What the police Department going to do about this officer?
Sally Becker. September 1, 2017
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I am confused here. The suspect was killed - why did they want a blood draw on the truck driver when it was the suspect that crossed the center line, not the truck driver? What made them think that the truck driver did anything wrong? If there is a chance that this truck driver won't make it why not wait? What is so urgent about it - what are they NOT telling us about this accident? Something just sounds iffy here.
Mo Fuk Shit September 1, 2017
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Dumb as a rock......
Dizzy Swain September 1, 2017
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Why were the other officers allowing this to happen?
Ted September 1, 2017
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Without a warrant, especially somone unconscious, that assault, and the draw would never hold up in court anyway. THid doe NOT help LEOs when the few bad ones get this kind of publicity.
paulette September 1, 2017
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IF SHE DOESN'T SUE THIS WILL NOT CHANGE,THIS COP IS A AUTORITY PIG WHO GETS OFF ON BULLYING PEOPLE,IF HE DID THIS TO THIS NURSE WHAT DO YOU THINK HE DOES WHEN HES NOT ON CAMERA,I SAY SUE THE CRAP OUT OF HIM,THEN SOMETHING MIGHT CHANGE AND HE DOESN'T NEED TO BE A COP
Nancy September 1, 2017
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She should just be calm and obey the law. Resistance will get you nowhere. It should have been handled by a hospital authority and not on a cell phone or computer. In the mean time the hurt man could be dying.
John R. Hanson September 1, 2017
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The SLCPD blew this completely. Payne should be suspended and the senior officer who said, "your policies regularly contravene the law." should be made to get educated and apologize. Hospital security should have protected the nurse. Real stupid. Real sickening. And what is the Chief's response?
[…] post Video: Utah Nurse Handcuffed, Arrested for Refusing to Obey Blatantly Unconstitutional Police Orders appeared first on Conservative […]
Ron Harris September 1, 2017
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I think the supervisor should be the one getting some kind of punishment.
CF

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