The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and on warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. – Fourth Amendment, Constitution for the united States of America.
In a news story and video that has gone viral, police body cams record a police officer “handcuffing and arresting a Salt Lake City nurse for refusing to obey a clearly unconstitutional order.”
The nurse, Alex Wubbels, refused the request made by Detective Jeff Payne to draw blood on an unconscious patient without a warrant or court order.
Video, released by the Salt Lake City Police Department, shows Detective Payne “manhandling” Wubbels before eventually handcuffing her just outside the door of the University of Utah Hospital Burn Unit.
The incident occurring on July 26, 2017, revolved around a car crash that followed a high speed police chase.
According to The Blaze:
A vehicle driven by an unnamed suspect was fleeing from police in Cache County when it crossed into on coming traffic and suffered a head-on collision with a truck. The suspect was killed in the crash, and the truck driver was taken to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. The truck driver was severely burned in the crash, so he was sedated and admitted to the hospital’s burn unit.
For reasons that are not immediately clear — the truck driver was not suspected of a crime and the suspect was deceased — Payne was ordered by his supervisors to obtain a blood sample from the truck driver and to arrest anyone who attempted to interfere.
There was only one problem: Payne had no warrant, lacked probable cause to get a warrant, and the truck driver was unconscious and thus could not consent to having his blood drawn.
The Deseret News reported that Ms. Wubbels refused to collect the blood Payne requested because he did not have a warrant nor meet the mandatory requirements of the hospital, made in conjunction with the police department, for collecting the blood.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the detective’s colleague at about the 3:56 mark call Ms. Wubbells “f****** stupid.”
Before the assault of the nurse by Payne, the officers were discussing the blood draw.
Payne’s colleague even indicated the hospital may want a warrant.
The other officer can be heard telling Payne to instruct Ms. Wubbels to get the blood sample or she would be arrested.
Payne’s colleague can also be heard saying it cannot be the first time that blood had to be taken from an unconscious patient.
Moreover, Payne’s colleague questioned at what point the hospital personnel would know they were violating the law.
All the while, Payne stood near the nurses’ station holding up the wall.
Let’s stop here and look at the situation.
Detective Payne’s colleague admitted in the video, recorded by his body camera, the hospital would probably want a warrant, which the police did not have or attempt to get while waiting for Wubbels to contact superiors and review hospital policy.
So, Payne knew he was skirting the violation of the patient’s rights.
The patient, the truck driver, who was hit head on by a car involved in a high speed chase with police that crossed into oncoming traffic, was unconscious and could not give informed consent.
The truck driver did not commit any crime nor was he a crime suspect that would warrant any blood collection by police since he was the victim.
In fact, there was no reason at all for the blood draw since the accident was not the fault of the truck driver, but a result of a high speed chase involving police attempting to apprehend a fleeing suspect.
Any law that violates the Fourth Amendment is unconstitutional.
In this case, the law enforcement officers were asking the nurse to draw blood (violate the patient) while he was unconscious (unable to give informed consent) without a warrant (unreasonable search) or probable cause to obtain a warrant (illegal seizure).
As the video continues at the 4:15 mark, the officers can be heard discussing the situation.
It appears Payne’s colleague indicated the police could “prove a point” with hospital personnel in this situation.
It wasn’t clear but he stated a possibility of charging the staff with interfering.
He can be heard saying “obstruction,” then “cool.”
The colleague of Payne returned to where Payne stood and informed him of the conditions under which the hospital personnel could be arrested.
Right before Ms. Wubbels brings the printed hospital policy to the officers, Payne’s colleague can be heard saying, “I’m sick and tired of coming up here.”
At this point, this is where the unwarranted assault and arrest of Ms. Wubbels began.
Ms. Wubbels informed the officers of the three circumstances in which blood could be drawn – electronic warrant, patient consent or patient under arrest for driving intoxicated.
Law enforcement had no warrant, the patient was unconscious and unable to consent, and law enforcement had not arrested the patient.
Ms. Wubbels, with a hospital supervisor on the phone, indicated to the officers the hospital policy had been agreed upon with their agency.
Despite the supervisor telling the officers, especially Payne, a huge mistake was being made, Payne, then, proceeded to assault Ms. Wubbels, handcuff her and place her in the police car.
The Deseret News continued:
In the video, which was captured by the bodycam of another officer who was present, Wubbels can be seen patiently and professionally explaining to Payne that without a warrant, she cannot allow him to draw blood from an unconscious patient. Wubbels additionally enlisted the help of a supervisor and hospital officials, who confirmed that it was both contrary to hospital policy and illegal for Payne to draw blood from this patient without a warrant.
Throughout the series of phone calls, Payne grows increasingly agitated at having his authority questioned and repeatedly threatens to arrest Wubbels. At one point, Wubbels’ supervisor asks Payne to stop threatening a nurse who is trying to do her job, at which point Payne visibly loses his temper, slaps the phone out of Wubbels’ hand, and begins to handcuff and arrest her.
In the video, Wubbels exclaims as she is being arrested, “This is crazy. This is crazy. Why is he so angry?”
After Payne’s colleague talked about arresting the nurse for “interfering,” expressing frustration for repeatedly coming to the hospital, and knowing the hospital would ask for a warrant, he turned into the “good cop” after Payne assaulted and handcuffed Ms. Wubbels.
Remember, this officer was working an angle to try and arrest hospital personnel for not “following orders” given by law enforcement to violate the patient’s rights protected under the Fourth Amendment.
Both of these officers knew the policy and the law, yet, both chose to engage in assault and false arrest of a nurse, violating her rights.
And, yes, the “good cop” is guilty for not taking Payne to task preventing him from assaulting the nurse.
He cannot feign “ignorance of the law” after he was heard on body cam talking about how to “skirt” the law if hospital personnel would not also engage in a violation of law.
Payne was acting on instructions by his superiors.
In fact, in the video he states, “I’m doing what I’m being told by my boss, and I’m going to do what my boss says.”
Well, he did.
In the process, he, following instructions instead of the law, violated the law by assaulting an individual who was not engaging in obstruction or interference but was only doing her job.
Detective Payne is still on active duty while the investigation is active, but has been removed from the blood draw program.
Payne’s colleague should be investigated as well.
Both need to attend some type of counseling for an “attitude adjustment.”
In this case, the truck driver was the victim.
Yet, police officers wanted a blood sample, probably at the request of the Department of Transportation.
When an individual drives an 18 wheeler, the individual is considered “at fault” in any accident, whether it is the truck driver’s fault or not.
So, the police high speed chase of a suspect caused the suspect to cross into oncoming traffic and hit the truck driver head on.
Police cannot be blamed.
The suspect driving the car is dead.
Only the truck driver remains to assume guilt hence the zeal for a blood sample.
The article also discussed the role of nurses in performing blood draws upon issue of warrant.
Now, the warrant does not apply to the nurse, meaning she is not obligated to draw the blood.
However, it was predicted that nurses could be caught up in a conundrum in the situation where police want blood, have a warrant, and the patient is refusing or cannot provide consent.
And, here is a nurse following hospital policy guiding personnel when blood draws are done for law enforcement that did not protect her from assault and false arrest by police officers.
I said it four years ago and I stand by it – if any law enforcement officer wants a blood sample from a suspect, who happens to be a patient, under the issue of warrant, a law enforcement officer needs to be trained in venipuncture in order for the agency to get their sample.
It doesn’t take very long to learn venipuncture procedures, meaning law enforcement can train to do it.
Medical personnel should not be involved in this at all.
The incident involving Ms. Wubbels should be proof of that.
Overzealous law enforcement officers were discussing how they could arrest hospital personnel knowing they did not have a warrant and the mandatory criteria for the hospital could not be met.
Payne used the excuse of “following orders” for violation of the Fourth Amendment protecting the patient’s right to unreasonable search and illegal seizure.
He, then, used the nurse’s following the hospital policy and standing on the State’s Nurse Practice Act to assault and arrest her for his violations.
No officer present assisted Ms. Wubbels, which should have occurred since Detective Payne was in violation of the law.
That said, law enforcement officers should not wonder why the public no longer has trust in any of them when officers like Payne are allowed to engage in violations of the law.
It is evident in Payne’s conversation with other officers he had a tremendous chip on his shoulder.
He should find another line of work.
Hopefully, the incident with Ms. Wubbels will bring to light the problems/pitfalls of having nurses perform blood draws ordered by warrant against a patient and policies and law will be enacted to protect nurses from this type of assault perpetrated by law enforcement officers who do not get their way from “following orders” and ignoring the law.