Utah Officer Jeff Payne Fired From Police Department Over Nurse Arrest

A Salt Lake City Police officer who drew fire for arresting a nurse earlier this year has been fired, the department announced Wednesday, October 11.

Jeff Payne, a 27-year veteran of the department, made news when body-cam footage showing him arguing with University Hospital emergency room nurse Alex Wubbels July 26 over blood the officer demanded be drawn from an accident victim without a search warrant. The exchange between Wubbels and Payne began calmly but became heated when Wubbels refused to draw the patient’s blood. The nurse even called a supervisor, who spoke to Payne via speakerphone. The officer then appeared to snap, saying “That’s it!” before placing under arrest. Wubbels struggled, reiterating her position that she had done nothing wrong and was following hospital policy.

According to the Associated Press, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown made the decision to fire Payne Tuesday.

In a termination letter to the officer, Brown said he lost faith in the longtime officer’s ability to serve as a member of the department. His behavior, Brown said, was unwarranted and disrespectful.

“I am deeply troubled by your lack of sound, professional judgment… 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 letter read.

Payne’s watch commander was also reprimanded for the Wubbels incident. James Tracy was demoted from lieutenant to officer after an internal investigation found that he violated Salt Lake Police Department policy by “undermining the public’s trust. Brown told Tracy in a letter that because of his actions, the department will require considerable time to rebuild that trust.

The Salt Lake City Police Department has since apologized for the incident.

The video of the arrest went viral and Payne, also a part-time EMT with a company called Gold Coast Ambulance, was fired from that job in September for comments he made about the hospital. Payne was caught on camera saying that when working on the ambulance, he would only bring University transients, and take the “good patients” elsewhere.

Wubbels was released after 20 minutes without charges. She refused Payne’s request because of a hospital policy that follows state and federal laws that require police to have probable cause or a warrant to draw blood from patients without their consent. The accident victim, a truck driver, later died from his injuries.

Payne has hired an attorney and is reportedly challenging the firing. His lawyer, Greg Skordas, told media Payne’s behavior did warrant termination.

[Featured Image by Karra Porter/AP Images]