Investigation found arrest of nurse broke policies

An investigation into the rough arrest of a Utah nurse who refused to allow a blood draw on an unconscious patient found evidence that police officers violated department policies, the mayor of Salt Lake City said Wednesday.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski discussed the findings in an unusual step aimed at repairing public trust after a video surfaced of the nurse being dragged from the hospital in handcuffs on July 26.

“The rift this has caused in our city must be healed,” the mayor said, citing threats made to 911 dispatchers and to her staff following the arrest.

The internal affairs investigation found evidence that Detective Jeff Payne and Lt. James Tracy broke guidelines on arrests, ethics and officer conduct, among others.

Greg Skordas, a lawyer for Payne, said he disputes some of the conclusions in the report and plans to prepare a response for the police chief. Attorney Ed Brass, who represents Tracy, didn’t return messages seeking comment.

Salt Lake City police chief Mike Brown will use the results of the investigation, as well as a civilian review board conclusion that policies were broken, when he decides what consequences the officers will face, the mayor said. There is no deadline for the decision.

Prosecutors have also opened a criminal investigation into the conduct.

An attorney for nurse Alex Wubbels said she was relieved about the findings involving the officers.

“These were two seasoned officers who apparently believed they had carte blanche to do exactly what they were doing,” lawyer Karra Porter said.

The detective who cuffed Wubbels has come under the most scrutiny. However, Porter said she’s also concerned about the behavior of Tracy, the supervisor who recommended the arrest and did not release Wubbels after he arrived at the scene to find her in handcuffs.

Brass has said his client has been the target of threats since the video was released. Brass has called for people to withhold judgment until the investigations are complete.

Skordas has said his client would walk away rather than put Wubbels in handcuffs, if he had it to do over again.

Both officers were put on paid administrative leave after Porter and Wubbels released the video on Aug. 31.

The mayor and police chief have apologized, and the department has updated its policy to match the hospital guidance that Wubbels followed when she refused to allow Payne to draw blood without formal consent or a warrant.

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