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Salt Lake police detective appeals firing after nurse arrest

  • SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT/COURTESY OF KARRA PORTER VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Nurse Alex Wubbels was arrested by a Salt Lake City police officer, July 26, at University Hospital in Salt Lake City. Utah Police Detective Jeff Payne was fired, Tuesday, in a case that became a flashpoint in the ongoing national conversation about police use of force.

SALT LAKE CITY >> A Utah police detective has formally appealed the decision to fire him after he was caught on video roughly handcuffing a nurse because she refused to allow him to draw blood from an unconscious patient, his lawyer said today.

Detective Jeff Payne asked to appear before a Salt Lake City employment board to make the case that his termination went too far and happened because the body-camera footage drew widespread attention and criticism online, lawyer Greg Skordas said.

The video shows Payne arresting nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26 after she explained that hospital policy wouldn’t allow him to take the blood for a car-crash investigation without a warrant or patient consent. Payne had neither, but he insisted. The dispute ended with him dragging her outside while she screamed that she’d done nothing wrong.

Chief Mike Brown said he was “deeply troubled” by Payne’s actions that brought disrepute to the department and called into question his ability to do his job, according to a letter released when the detective was terminated Tuesday.

Payne has worked for Salt Lake City Police for 27 years. He was twice disciplined, once for sexually harassing a co-worker in 2013. But he also earned commendations for solving burglary cases and being shot in the shoulder during a traffic stop in 1998.

The dustup also brought a demotion for Payne’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, who told the detective over the phone to arrest Wubbels if she didn’t cooperate. He’s also shown on video continuing to push for the blood draw as she sat cuffed in a police car. She was later released without charge.

Tracy also plans to appeal his demotion to officer and will file within the required five-day window, his attorney Ed Brass said.

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