A Salt Lake City, Utah nurse has sought out legal counsel after she claims she was assaulted by a police officer for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient.
The man, identified as 43-year-old truck driver and reserve officer William Gray, was rushed to the hospital after colliding with another man who had been driving erratically. The crash caused the death of the other driver when his pickup truck exploded into flames, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Gray was on fire when he exited the semi-truck he had been driving at the time of the accident.
Police investigating the crash wanted to draw blood from Gray, but in accordance with proper policies and procedures, nurse Alex Wubbels explained to Detective Jeff Payne that she could not draw blood from the patient unless there had been a warrant or the patient consented to the procedure – neither of which had been in place at the time.
The confrontation, which was captured on camera, shows Wubbels explaining the policy to the officer who clearly became annoyed with the nurse. As she was explaining the written policy a second time, Det. Payne announced, “OK, no, we’re done, we’re done — you’re under arrest.”
Wubbles was placed in handcuffs as other hospital staff looked on. Two hospital administrators attempted to intervein but were warned by Det. Payne that they would be arrested as well. Wubbles screamed as she was taken to the officer’s patrol car by force.
Officially, Wubbles was never charged with a crime.
“She followed procedures and protocols in this matter and was acting in her patient’s best interest,” Payne’s department said in a statement to the New York Post. “We have worked with our law enforcement partners on this issue to ensure an appropriate process for moving forward.”
Payne has since been suspended from the force’s blood draw division as an internal investigation into the case is underway. Payne believed that he was entitled to draw the patient’s blood under implied consent without obtaining a warrant and claimed he only wanted to protect the patient, not punish him.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that implied consent laws regarding blood draws have not been in place since 2007. Wubbles believes this incident proves that police agencies need to be re-educated on what appropriate intervention is.