A Utah policeman who was captured on video grabbing an emergency room nurse and dragging her from a hospital has been fired from the department.
Det. Jeff Payne was widely criticized after footage was released of the July incident, when nurse Alex Wubbels, in accordance with the University of Utah medical center’s guidelines, declined to draw blood from an unconscious, seriously burned patient.
Also disciplined was Lt. James Tracy, who arrived after Payne had handcuffed Wubbels and forced her into a police cruiser. She was not charged and was later released.
“I have lost faith and confidence in your ability to continue to serve as a member of the Salt Lake City Police Department,” chief Mike Brown wrote in Payne’s termination of employment notice, KSTU-TV reported.
Tracy was demoted to the rank of officer. “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 said.
Payne’s attorney said his client had served the department well and questioned whether his behavior warranted being fired.
The encounter unleashed a firestorm of protests from citizens, the city’s mayor and the district attorney.
The video showed Wubbels, a former Olympian, calmly explaining hospital protocol to Payne. She was prohibited from drawing blood from a patient who was not a suspect and was unable to sign a consent form.
The patient in question was unconscious, having been critically burned in a car wreck. He was not suspected of wrongdoing.
Wubbels had her supervisor on her cell’s speaker phone while she talked with Payne. She was surrounded by hospital staff.
Nevertheless, Payne insisted she draw blood from the injured man to aid his investigation of the crash.
He threatened to arrest her, then grabbed her around the waist and dragged her outside as she screamed for help and members of the hospital staff tried to intercede, the video showed.
Tracy arrived and told a handcuffed Wubbels she should have done what Payne told her to do.
After the video became public in September, both cops were placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Prosecutors have also opened a criminal probe and asked the FBI to determine if there were civil rights violations.
Payne had been disciplined in 2013 for sexually harassing a female colleague in a “persistent and severe” fashion, The Associated Press reported.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski thanked “the residents of our community for their patience as we moved through this process. I recognize this incident has caused pain, confusion, and anger for many in our community—especially among our healthcare, law enforcement and emergency management professionals,” she said in a statement.