Nurse Whose Violent Arrest Went Viral Wins Huge Settlement

Detective was fired after handcuffing Alex Wubbels for following hospital procedure.

A Utah nurse who was arrested for refusing to allow a police officer to draw blood from an unconscious patient has reached a $500,000 (£375,000) compensation settlement.

Alex Wubbels agreed the payout with Salt Lake City’s local government and University Hospital nearly two months after footage emerged showing her being handcuffed by Detective Jeff Payne.

The video, filmed by a police body camera, drew widespread criticism and prompted a national debate about force used by US officers.

The settlement precludes legal action against any possible defendants including individual police officers, university police and hospital security guards. The payment will be split between city authorities and the hospital. The nurse’s lawyer, Karra Porter, said: “There will be no lawsuit.”

Ms Wubbels, a former Winter Olympian, plans to use part of the money to fund legal help for others trying to get similar body-camera video. She said video was essential to being heard and believed in cases such as hers.

“We all deserve to know the truth, and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage, and that’s what happened in my case,” she said. “No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience I went through.”

She said she also planned to give a portion of the $500,000 to a nurse’s union and help lead a campaign to stop physical and verbal abuse of nurses on the job.

Alex Wubbels was arrested for refusing to let a police officer draw blood from an unconscious patient – AP

Ms Wubbels was following hospital policy when she told Detective Payne he needed he needed a warrant or the consent of the patient to draw blood after a 26 July car crash. The patient was not under arrest or suspected of wrongdoing.

The officer, who did not have a warrant or consent, dragged the nurse outside and handcuffed her as she screamed: “Help! Help! Somebody help me! Stop! Stop! I did nothing wrong!”

She was released without charge but said the incident “should never have happened”. In a call for change, she released the video she obtained through a public records request in August.

University of Utah hospital officials said in a statement they supported Ms Wubbels and have changed their procedures and training on how police and healthcare workers interact.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown has since apologised and fired Detective Payne after an internal investigation found he violated department policies.

Chief Brown said in a disciplinary letter that he was “deeply troubled” by the officer’s conduct, which he said brought “significant disrepute” on the department.

Detective Payne is appealing his dismissal, which he said was an unfair reaction to negative publicity.

The patient was an off-duty Idaho reserve police officer and lorry driver, Bill Gray, whose vehicle was hit by a man fleeing police in a pick-up truck. He later died of his injuries.

Lieutenant James Tracy, a police supervisor who ordered the arrest of the nurse, was demoted to officer and also is appealing. He said he suggested Detective Payne consider handcuffing the nurse and that his superiors had never informed him of the hospital’s blood-draw policy.

Ms Wubbels said she was relieved at the disciplinary action and would be disappointed if it was overturned.

“The police have to police themselves,” she added. “This is something I never would have expected to happen, but I’m also honoured by the weight of it.”