This Nurse Had the Legal Right to Refuse to Take Blood from a Patient

Watch a Utah police officer drag a helpless nurse into his squad car for no legal reason.

The Washington Post

Body cam footage of Utah Detective Jeff Payne forcibly dragging a screaming nurse from a hospital has shocked the internet this week.

In a video released Friday, Nurse Alex Wubbels tells Payne that he cannot legally force her to draw blood from a victim in the burn ward at the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City. Visibly frustrated, he threatens to arrest her. Wubbels’ calm rebuttal was also caught on camera; she informs Payne that constitutional law prevents medical professionals from drawing the blood of unconscious patients who cannot consent to the procedure.

Without a warrant, she says, correctly, Payne had no legal right to demand a sample of her patient’s blood.

Perhaps in response to Payne’s growing agitation, Wubbels calls her supervisor and puts him on speakerphone. “Sir,” her supervisor says, “you’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.” In response, Payne attempts to slap Wubbels’ phone out of her hand, saying, “We’re done here.” He then chases her toward the door to the hospital, dragging her out and against a wall, where he cuffs her.

“Help! Help me! Stop!” Wubbels cries, and the officer wearing the body cam capturing Payne’s forcible arrest says nothing. “You’re assaulting me! Stop! I’ve done nothing wrong! This is crazy!”

Before Payne used unnecessary force and assaults a non-violent citizen, he was in the wrong by operating on outdated knowledge of the law.

As Wubbels tries to say on camera before she’s forced into a squad car, the Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that blood samples obtained without a warrant are illegal.

According to Fourth Amendment protections, drawing blood from a patient without a warrant is a violation and an unreasonable search, even if that patient is suspected of having driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The patient in question, an unconscious truck driver, was brought into the hospital after suffering intensive burns in a collision. The driver who struck the patient’s vehicle had been fleeing from the police. As local news reports, there was no evidence that the patient had been driving under the influence, and more importantly, Payne and his team had none of the legally necessary materials to demand a blood sample.

Wubbels has since been released and was never charged with a crime. She is not pressing charges against the Salt Lake City police force, though Detective Payne is still on active duty. He has reportedly been suspended from the blood draw program, but no other disciplinary action has been taken against him yet.

See also: Watch the NYPD’s bizarre, incorrect “Blue Racism” PSA

Related Tags