A Utah nurse who was arrested for refusing to let a police officer draw blood from an unconscious patient settled Tuesday with Salt Lake City and the university that runs the hospital for $500,000.
Nurse Alex Wubbels and her lawyer, Karra Porter, announced the move nearly two months after they released police body-camera video showing Detective Jeff Payne handcuffing Wubbels. The footage described widespread attention online amid “the member states national” debate about police use of force.
The settlement encompass all possible defendants in a lawsuit, including individual police officer, university police and hospital security guards. The payout will be divided among the city and the University of Utah.
Wubbels plans to use part of the money to fund legal help for others trying to get similar body-camera video. She said that in cases like hers, video is essential to being heard and believed.
“We all deserve to know the truth, and the truth comes when you assure the actual raw footage, and that’s what happened in my case, ” she said. “No matter how truthful I was in telling my tale, it was nothing compared to what people ensure and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience I went through.”
She said she also plans to give a portion of the $500,000 to a nurse’s union and help result a campaign to stop physical and verbal abuse of nurses on the job.
University of Utah hospital officers said in a statement they support Wubbels and have changed their procedures and training on how police and health care workers interact to ensure nothing similar happens again.
A spokesman for Salt Lake City didn’t immediately return messages trying comment.
Wubbel was following hospital policy when she told Payne he needed a warrant or the consent of the patient to draw blood after a July 26 auto accident. The patient was not under arrest or suspected of wrongdoing.
Payne had neither. He eventually dragged Wubbels outside and handcuffed her as she hollered that she had done nothing wrong.
She was released without being charged but has said the incident left her impression terrified and bullied. In a call for changes, Wubbel and her lawyer released the video they had obtained through a public records request.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown has since apologized and fired Payne after an internal investigation determined he transgressed department policies.
Brown said in a disciplinary letter that he was “deeply troubled” by Payne’s conduct, which he said brought “significant disrepute” on the department.
Payne is appealing that decision, saying the firing was an unjust reaction to the negative publicity.
The patient was an off-duty Idaho reserve police officer driving a semitrailer when he was hit by a human fleeing police in a pickup truck. He subsequently died of his injuries.
Lt. James Tracy, a police superintendent who ordered the arrest of the nurse, was demoted to policeman and also is appealing. He said he indicated Payne hold handcuffing the nurse and that his superiors had never informed him of the hospital’s blood-draw policy, according to appeal documents.
Wubbels said she was alleviated at the discipline and would be disappointed if it’s overturned, though she should be pointed out that decision is out of her control.
“The police have to police themselves, ” she said. “This is something I never would have expected to happen, but I’m also honored by the weight of it.”
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