A University of Utah Hospital nurse says she was unlawfully arrested and assaulted by a Salt Lake City police officer in an incident recorded by surveillance and police body cameras earlier this summer.
Alex Wubbels was working as the charge nurse on July 26 when an unconscious semi-truck driver was brought into the hospital, KTLA sister station KSTU reported Thursday. The driver had been struck by a motorist who was fleeing from Utah Highway Patrol troopers in Cache County.
Wubbels was arrested after she allegedly refused the officer’s demand to take a blood sample from the injured truck driver, according to the Salt Lake City television station.
She told the office that the hospital and police department already had a policy in place that blood could not be taken without at least one of three conditions – consent from the patient, a warrant from a judge, or an arrest.
“I was just trying to do it the right way," Wubbels said. “If they need blood they need to go through the proper channels.”
After displaying the blood draw protocol, the officer arrested Wubbel and placed her in his squad car. On the police body cam video, Wubbels can be heard screaming at the officer to stop.
“Please sir, you are hurting me,” Wubbels says.
“Then walk,” ordered the officer.
Karra Porter, Wubbels' attorney, said the incident was unlawful.
“There was both an unlawful assault and an unlawful arrest,” Porter said.
The civil attorney was also critical of the University of Utah police for not intervening to help the nurse.
“She was rightfully afraid of her well-being,” added Porter. “They refused to take any steps to protect her.”
On Friday, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski addressed the video, saying she had viewed it for the first time late Thursday.
"What I saw is completely unacceptable," Biskupski said.
The mayor said she'd personally apologized to Wubbels Friday. The police civilian review board is investigating, Biskupski said.
The Salt Lake City Police Department has also begun an internal affairs investigation into the arresting officer. The department has also ordered more training for officers who work with medical providers.
“We were alarmed and immediately took action,” said Salt Lake City police Sgt. Brandon Shearer. “We’ve looked at our policies and we want to take steps to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
The University of Utah Hospital has also initiated changes.
"University of Utah Health supports Nurse Wubbles and her decision to focus first and foremost on the care and well-being of her patient,” a hospital spokeswoman said in a statement. “She followed procedures and protocols in this matter and was acting in her patient’s best interest. We have worked with our law enforcement partners on this issue to ensure an appropriate process for moving forward.”
Wubbels said she will consider a lawsuit if real changes are not made to improve the working relationships between law enforcement and medical providers. She said she hopes the videos will start a dialogue to help make those changes take place.
“If this could happen to me it could happen to anyone," she said.