PD thanks Utah nurse for protecting injured LEO's patient rights

The Rigby Police Department has revealed that one of their reserve officers was the patient at the center of a viral confrontation between a detective and a nurse


By Police1 Staff

SALT LAKE CITY — An Idaho police department is thanking a nurse for protecting an injured officer’s patient rights during a viral incident between the nurse and a Utah detective

The Rigby Police Department wrote on Facebook Friday that it was one of their reserve officers, William Gray, who was injured in the July accident that led to the viral video. A suspect fleeing Utah State Highway Patrol collided head-on with Gray’s truck, killing himself and critically injuring Gray. 

Dash camera footage of the high-speed pursuit shows suspect Marco Torres fleeing from police before swerving into oncoming traffic and striking Gray’s truck head-on. Police initially attempted to pull over Torres for erratic driving. The impact caused an explosion. Police told Fox 13 that Gray was on fire when he exited his vehicle. Gray was airlifted to the burn unit at University of Utah Hospital.

 

Det. Jeff Payne entered the burn unit where nurse Alex Wubbels was working as a charge nurse on July 26 and asked for Gray’s blood as part of an investigation, KSL reported. Payne, a trained police phlebotomist, did not have a warrant and the unconscious patient could not provide consent, so Wubbels denied him access, the Washington Post reported. An argument between Payne and Wubbels was caught on body camera and Wubbels was arrested for “interfering with an investigation.” She was later released without charge.

The Rigby Police Department said they were not made aware of the incident until Aug. 31. They noted that Gray, at no time, was under any suspicion of wrongdoing and was the victim in the accident.

“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,” the agency wrote. “The Rigby Police Department would also like to acknowledge the hard work the involved agencies and trusts that this unfortunate incident will be investigated thoroughly and appropriate action will be taken.”

CEO of University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City Gordon Crabtree told USA Today on Tuesday that hospital security should have intervened to stop the incident and “this will not happen again.”

"Nurse Wubbels was placed in an unfair and unwarranted position (and) her actions were nothing less than exemplary,” he said.

Crabtree said policies have been changed and police officers can now speak only to “house supervisors.” No contacts can be made in patient-care areas.

According to ABC 7 Chicago, Salt Lake City’s mayor and the department’s police chief apologized Friday, stating what they had seen was unacceptable. 

"It was clear that the arrest was completely mishandled, was inappropriate and didn't need to happen," Police Chief Dale Brophy said. "She did everything possible to make that situation work and she wasn't rewarded for it."

Per department policy, Payne and a second officer are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Payne was also put on administrative leave from his part-time position as a paramedic with Gold Cross Ambulance, Fox 13 Now reported. 

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