Utah police officer who handcuffed nurse is fired, supervising officer is demoted

Detective Jeff Payne, the man who arrested nurse Alex Wubbels at a Salt Lake City hospital after she refused to perform a drug test on an unconscious patient, has been fired. From the Associated Press:

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown made the decision after an internal investigation found evidence Detective Jeff Payne violated department policies when he arrested nurse Alex Wubbels and dragged her out of the hospital as she screamed on July 26, said Sgt. Brandon Shearer, a spokesman for the department.

Attorney Greg Skordas has said Payne served the department well for nearly three decades and questioned whether his behavior warranted termination. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Payne’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, was also demoted to officer. His lawyer, Ed Brass, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment…

“Your lack of judgment and leadership in this matter is unacceptable, and as a result, I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the department,” Brown said.

wrote about this story at the beginning of September and called it a “pretty clear abuse of authority.” It was immediately clear that Det. Payne had no legal justification for dragging Wubbels out of the hospital and handcuffing her. She had clearly explained the hospital policy after talking to a hospital attorney by phone and the person whose blood police wanted to test was unconscious and unable to consent.

When supervisor Lt. Tracy showed up moments later, he defended Det. Payne and condescendingly claimed the problem was that Wubbels didn’t know the law. “If we’re doing wrong, there are civil remedies,” Tracy said. But the findings of two separate investigations concluded that Payne and Tracy were in the wrong, each of them violating department policy in five separate ways.

As Ed noted, the Mayor of Salt Lake City claimed this would have been the result whether or not Wubbels’ attorney had released the body cam video of her arrest. I don’t buy that at all. Frankly, without the video I believe Payne and Tracy would have escaped any serious consequences and maybe even have lied about what happened. This incident is a good example of why all police officers should have body cameras. It protects them and it protects people from them when they abuse their authority.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on February 02, 2023