News & Politics

Utah Nurse's Arrest Shows Police Misconduct Doesn't Imply Racism

By now, you’ve probably heard that a nurse in Utah was arrested for refusing to conduct a blood draw on an unconscious patient. The video of the encounter went viral, and social media has been completely abuzz with discussion. University of Utah Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels has now been thrust into the public eye.

Warrantless blood draws, which are what the officer is demanding, have been found by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. The officer in question, Detective Jeff Payne, should be aware of that. After all, he’s not some rookie cop just out of the police academy. In theory, you reach the rank of detective after years of quality service.

Now, Payne may have thrown all that away simply because someone stood up to him … to protect someone who, it turns out, had a badge:

But since the footage went viral, it has emerged that the patient whose blood Officer Payne was intent on drawing was also a member of law enforcement, Officer William Gray of Rigby Police Department.

Posting on its Facebook page, Rigby Police Department issued an open thank you to nurse Wubbels for protecting their officer.

“The Rigby Police Department would like to thank the nurse involved and hospital staff for standing firm, and protecting Officer Gray’s rights as a patient and victim. Protecting the rights of others is truly a heroic act,” the department’s post said.

The department also explained how Gray came to be in the hospital, stating: “On July 26th of this year, one of our reserve officers, William Gray was the victim in a horrific accident in northern Utah while working his full-time job as a truck driver.”

“The suspect in this incident was fleeing from Utah State Highway Patrol, when he crossed into oncoming traffic and collided head on with Gray’s truck, severely injuring Gray, and killing himself. Officer Gray was flown to the University of Utah’s burn unit where he remains under their watchful, professional, and competent care,” the post added.

Payne’s response is troubling in many ways.

First, it appears that Wubbels is trying to follow the law and hospital policy while at the same time trying to work with police. After all, she’s on the phone trying to find a resolution. We also see that Payne is apparently making no effort to obtain a warrant, something that shouldn’t be overly difficult if there’s probable cause for the blood draw. Instead, he’s throwing his proverbial weight around and expecting things to just happen. When Wubbels refuses to cave, he simply quips, “We’re done.”

Folks, that phrase isn’t the rational response of a seasoned law enforcement officer. That’s what someone says when they’re simply frustrated they can’t get their way.

This raises a question worth considering: Are groups like Black Lives Matter on to something with their accusations against police? No. In fact, I think this video is evidence that the police misconduct issue has been exploited as a race issue. Law enforcement does a tremendous job in this country, yet occasionally massively oversteps its powers — and anyone can end up being victimized.