Detective Payne And Nurse Wubbels: What We Don’t Know

in Law/Politics by

By now most of you have seen the video on your social media feeds of Nurse Alex Wubbels being arrested by Detective Jeff Payne. We all know what happened, but it’s still not clear on why it happened. Here is what we know so far:

Marco Torres was running from the police in a pickup truck. The pickup went left of center and collided head-on with a semi driven by William Gray. Torres died at the scene and Gray was critically injured and badly burned. Torres was obviously at fault in the accident, but there′s nothing the police can do to him or for him at this point. Gray was sedated by paramedics and taken to the hospital.

At the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Payne ordered Wubbels to take a blood sample from William Gray. She refused to provide a sample because of the hospital′s policy, which said that a blood sample can only be provided to the police if the patient had been arrested, a warrant was issued, or the patient consented. There was no warrant, William Gray was not suspected of any crime, and he was incapable of giving consent while unconscious. This policy was started as part of an agreement between the hospital and the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Multiple staff members told Payne that none of them would draw another blood sample from Gray, and tried to explain the policy to him. Payne arrested Wubbels after his supervisor ordered him to do so. This bizarre situation begs the following question: Why Payne was so insistent on getting a blood sample from someone who has done nothing wrong?

Both Payne and Wubbels were just following orders. She didn’t want to be a hero any more than he wanted to be the villain. It’s just that Wubbels had better orders to follow than Payne. For a long time in Utah, it was routine to obtain blood samples from all drivers involved in a fatal accidents. The doctrine was that if you are driving on the road, your consent to a blood test is implied. However, a recent Supreme Court ruling bans blood samples from being taken without a warrant and overturns implied consent laws. It is possible that Detective Gray was unaware of the court ruling that directly impacted his job. However, the hospital staff seemed to know more about the rule than the police did.

Some have also speculated that the SLCPD was concerned about Gray′s reputation as a reserve police officer. Others have even speculated that SLCPD wanted to smear Gray to protect the reputation of the Utah Highway Patrol, who started the police chase that led to the crash putting Gray in the hospital. These theories contradict each other, and we will probably never understand the true motive. Payne was clearly wrong to arrest Wubbels regardless of why he committed the heinous act. There is probably a lot more wrongdoing occurring beyond what we have seen.

To play devil’s advocate, Payne might not have been 100 percent sure that Gray was innocent and felt the need to gather more evidence. Blood samples are a time-sensitive issue too because the body metabolizes and quickly eliminates drugs from the blood. Still, Payne is a certified phlebotomist. Why didn’t he just get the blood sample himself?

It would appear that because of Gray′s severe burns, Payne might have needed assistance from hospital staff. If Payne has not been complying with the Supreme Court ruling, we are just now finding out about it a year after the ruling has taken effect. During that time, Payne and other Salt Lake City officers may have taken blood samples from other motorists against their will in violation of the 4th Amendment.

This whole matter would not have come to light without a brave nurse standing up under extreme duress for the rights of her patient. A more cynical way of putting it is that nobody cared about any of this until a blonde woman with a college education got arrested. Police departments throughout the United States would be wise to brief their officers on court cases that are relevant to their job, or the next viral video might come from their jurisdiction. Motorists also need to be aware that police cannot draw their blood without a warrant, an arrest, or their prior consent.

Robert is the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Allen County, Indiana. He has worked in the private security industry since before 9/11. His new novel, A Long Way From Tipperary, is now available on Amazon.

  • he should b fire

  • If you don’t know court rulings of implied consent laws and obtaining blood samples then you’re woefully inadequate for the job at hand. Nurse Wubbels understands her job and its limitations as per law.

  • the reason he wanted a blood sample is irrelevant. He didn’t have a warrant to get one. End of discussion.

  • There’s no excuse for what the officer did and if anyone should know the law its the person whose job it is to enforce.

  • Cops already have strained relations with the ‘civilians’ aka public and Detective Payne made public relations even worse.

  • There is no excuse for Detective Payne. None. Period. Abduction under color of law. Legthy prison sentence for Mr. Wayne should logically follow.

  • im 100% LE but this goes well over the lines. enjoy your retirement if you will get one now. .

  • tz1

    The other problem is that he didn’t say politely, “I have to place you under arrest”, he attacked her. Instant escalation. Contempt of cop. Disobeying an UNLAWFUL order. Comply or Die!

  • Welcome to the Police State.

    The fact that this happened on July 26 and nothing was done by the SLPD until the video finally emerged – where it finally had to be addressed – to me, shows that those who knew of it took NO action, in light of the blatant disregard for the nurse and the protocols she followed and the Fourth Amendment.

    NO consent.
    NO probable cause.
    NO arrest.
    NO warrant.

    The SLPD is complicit in a cover up and protecting their own, as the guy who is UNconscious is an out of state cop and was doing his side job as a trucker.

    It is obvious, to anyone with critical thinking that this was done to coverup the exposure and protecting of their own, since it was the high speed chase that led to the accident.

    The detective, the supervisor and the chief of police and the rest of the them who are complicit ought to be charged, prosecuted and fired.

    This is about the infamous Blue Line and those who enforce it.

  • I’m 71 y,o., a veteran (E5, Honorable), never been arrested. This cop does not look a lot different to me than the cops who for fifty years have been violating my rights, “Terry stopping” me for insignificant traffic violations, asking for ID when I am not required to provide it, removing me and my passengers from the vehicle and frisking after a seat belt ticket (did I mention they were Black), searching my car with no PC and over my objections, etc.

    If a law abiding, white citizen like me has to endure decades of rights violations, I can’t imagine how it must be for poor and minorities. This wonderful, heroic nurse shone a light on the deep corruption among the law enforcement community, even though many of us were already aware of it.

    • tim adams

      I’ve gotta agree, blatant 4th Amendment violations of unreasonable searches seems to be standard procedure here the Police State of Texas. They even have a section on all traffic tickets noting whether the search was consensual or based on probable cause, (such as “I smells marijuana”). Then the “Please step out of the vehicle” part and questioning of myself and my 62 year old wife, such as; “where are you coming from and then, what’s going on there, and the answer is “Well, That is where I live and we’re going downtown because I have a doctor appointment. They ask the passenger the same questions to see if our stories match, which they always do. Usually I’ll tell the officer I’ll comply to the illegal search (I’m always going to appointments or something and don’t have time for a prolonged bull session with a couple half-witted police officers) if the officer can tell me what the 4th Amendment to the Constitution is. Nine times out of ten they have no idea what I’m talking about, and reply with a counter offer; they will only give me a warning ticket for whatever bogus reason they pulled me over for, (such as crossing the line or failure to signal lane change) if I consent to the illegal search. Now we’re white senior citizens and have been treated to these Gestapo tactics several times. It blows my mind how my civil rights have disappeared in the modern police state and in the name of the “war on drugs”. America, and Texas have descended into a police state where the Bill of Rights is ignored, a sad day indeed.

  • Michael Enders

    If there was an agreement between the hospital and the Salt Lake City police department, than the police department and the hospital were both under an obligation to train their employees. It is obvious that the hospital trained its employees. It is not so obvious that the police department trained its employees. Then there is the matter of police officers having knowledge of the laws they are trying to enforce.

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