Police brutality is a hot-button issue in America today, and a recent altercation in a Utah hospital has only added fuel to the fire. On July 16th, a police officer manhandled and arrested nurse Alex Wubbels when she refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient for him. And the hospital is furious.
Gordon Crabtree, the hospital’s interim chief, bluntly told the police that they wouldn’t be allowed into patient care areas of the University of Utah Hospital and that they would no longer be allowed to directly contact nurses. Instead, they will have to talk to them through senior nursing supervisors.
Crabtree, who was “deeply troubled” by the police officer’s actions, praised Wubbels, saying that “her actions are nothing less than exemplary … putting her own safety at risk” to protect the rights of patients. Under patient consent laws, drawing blood from an unconscious patient is a violation of constitutionally-protected rights.
Wubbels herself has spoken out against her treatment by Detective Jef Payne, and the subsequent conduct of the entire police force.
“The conversations I had with the Salt Lake City police initially were progressive,” Wubbels told NBC Today, but she feels as though the police force is not doing enough to change in the wake of the incident.
University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy has since apologized to Wubbels for his initial response to the situation, saying that he had not yet seen the video when he made his first judgment.
“I was able to see firsthand how poorly this situation was handled,” Brophy said, in a public statement. “This is not how law enforcement professionals should act.” Payne has since been fired.
The video of the event, which sparked public outrage on its release, was taken from another officer’s body camera.
The portable cameras, which many police chiefs balk at asking their officers to wear, have been recommended as a partial solution to endemic police brutality. Specifically, body cam advocates believe they may reduce the number of Black people killed by police officers in suspicious circumstances.
Whether or not the incident is proof that body cams work, the video helped galvanize the hospital to make lasting policy changes.
As Crabtree said in his statement, “This will not happen again. There’s absolutely no tolerance for that kind of behavior in our hospital.”