On Friday, the video of a Salt Lake City detective made national headlines after he was caught violently manhandling the head nurse at the University of Utah Medical Center, Alex Wubbels. In an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” she finally spoke out about traumatizing event.
— CNN (@CNN) September 4, 2017
Wubbels explains, “I was scared to death. I was obviously very frightened… I feel betrayed. I feel betrayed by the police officers. I feel betrayed by my university police and security.”
When pressed by the host, Wubbels went into greater detail.
“Because I called them… to get help, to have someone protect me because I felt unsafe with Officer Payne from the beginning.”
The identity of the unconscious patient whose rights Wubbels was defending, it turns out, is a reserve police officer from the Rigby Police Department in Idaho. In a press release, the Rigby Police Department identifies the unconscious patient as Officer William Gray and praises the hospital staff for their “watchful, professional, and competent care.” The statement also goes on to commend Wubbels specifically for “standing firm, and protecting Officer Gray’s rights as a patient and victim.”
The detective responsible for dragging Wubbels out of her unit, Jeff Payne, had been attempting to collect blood from the unconscious officer. She correctly insisted that, to do so, Payne needed a warrant, consent from the victim, or for the victim to be under arrest, none of which was the case. When Wubbels’ supervisor, who was on the phone, corroborated her rationale, Payne snapped, manhandled the nurse, placed her under arrest and accused her of obstructing justice.
Both Salt Lake City’s mayor and police chief have publicly apologized to Wubbels.
It is an important, albeit unfortunate, commentary on society when a nurse, someone whose job it is to help those in need, feels unsafe when confronted with a police officer, whose job it is to protect those in need. Detective Payne has brought shame onto his department and profession at a time when American police desperately need to reform their image.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.