Utah Police Officer Featured In Video Arresting Nurse Fired

The video rocked the nation. It was a simple thing. A police officer wanted a blood test for an individual brought in following a traffic accident, someone who had been seriously injured. He wanted it, but he had no court order for it and there was no doctor’s order for it, so the nurse got on the phone and appeared to be trying to find a solution.

She got arrested for her troubles, and in the process became the subject of a viral video.

Now, that officer is looking for a new job and his supervisor is getting to climb back up the ranks.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown has fired one officer and demoted another in response to the July 26 arrest of University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels, according to records obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Detective Jeff Payne, who arrested Wubbels, was fired Tuesday. Payne’s watch commander the day of the confrontation, Lt. James Tracy, was demoted to police officer III effective Wednesday, according to the documents signed by Brown and sent to the men.

Brown’s decision is the culmination of an internal affairs investigation that began a day after the confrontation between Wubbels and Payne. The probe ultimately found that both officers had violated a number of department policies.

“In examining your conduct,” Brown wrote to Payne, “I am deeply troubled by your lack of sound professional judgment and your discourteous, disrespectful, and unwarranted behavior, which unnecessarily escalated a situation that could and should have been resolved in a manner far different from the course of action you chose to pursue.”

Brown was similarly critical of Tracy, saying his lack of judgment and leadership was “unacceptable,” and, “as a result, I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the Department.”

I support our boys in blue, but they make mistakes. When they make major mistakes like this one, they should be fired just like anyone else would be. Let’s be blunt, this wasn’t some minor screw up either. This was a massive gaffe that was also caught on video, which didn’t do him any favors.

We all understand that police officers are in a tough spot. Sometimes, the rules allow guilty people to walk away from their transgressions. It’s frustrating. I get it.

Yet there are still laws that have to be observed, otherwise, you’re committing your own transgressions. Among those laws is the Fourth Amendment that protects people from unreasonable search and seizure, and that includes bodily fluids. If there’s probable cause to get the blood sample, then call the judge and get the warrant. Nurse Wubbels would have had no issue, then.

Instead, Payne crossed the line when he decided to arrest a nurse who was just doing her job.

There’s one very important thing to remember here, however. These are just two police officers out of thousands in this country who do the job right each and every day. It becomes easy to paint them all with the same brush, but they work in a job where doing your job right goes largely unnoticed by most people, but every screw up has the potential to be a front page story.

May 16, 2021 11:30 AM ET
May 16, 2021 8:30 AM ET