Utah police officer fired for treatment of nurse who refused blood draw

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Detective Jeff Payne, accused of assaulting and unlawfully arresting the nurse, was sacked from the force on Tuesday, according to Salt Lake City police spokesman Detective Robert Ungricht and police records.

"I am deeply troubled by your lack of sound, professional judgment and your discourteous, disrespectful and unwarranted behavior, which unnecessarily escalated a situation that could and should have been resolved in a manner far different from the course of action you chose to pursue", the chief wrote.

The officer's lawyer called the firing unfair, cited his 27-years on the force, and questioned if firing him was a fair punishment.

Attorney Greg Skordas said Tuesday that Detective Jeff Payne would likely still be employed if body-camera footage hadn't generated widespread attention online. According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, Payne's watch commander, Lt. James Tracy, was also demoted to officer because of the incident. His lawyer, Ed Brass, couldn't immediately be reached. Police claim he threatened them with a knife; Harmon's family says he had issues with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

"Your lack of judgment and leadership in this matter is unacceptable, and as a result, I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the department", Brown wrote.

".@KarraPorter says she thinks Jeff Payne is sorry he got caught, not as sorry for his actions".


The Associated Press obtained the disciplinary letters for Payne and Tracy through a public records request.

Porter said she and her client would make a decision about potential legal action by the end of the month. "Alex feels very strongly that her story would have never been told if it weren't for the body camera footage".

According to the Associated Press, Nurse Wubbels does plan to meet with the city to discuss next steps which could include a settlement. "In making his decision, I am confident Chief Brown balanced the unique stresses each of our police officers deal with daily, and the responsibility they have as leaders in our community". The University of Utah Hospital also changed its policy so that officers are not allowed to interact with nurses and must see a supervisor. The unconscious patient was not a suspect in the wreck that killed another driver. He was an off-duty reserve Idaho police officer driving a semitrailer when he was hit by a man fleeing police in a pickup truck.

But Mr Payne did not present a warrant to collect the blood sample, as required by hospital policy, and state and federal law.

Both officers had been under intense public scrutiny since body camera footage of Wubbels' July 26 arrest was made public by Wubbels and her attorney.

Video of Payne's arrest showed university police standing by idly as Payne manhandled Wubbels outside and into handcuffs.

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