Lawyer: Utah officer wants to apologize for nurse's controversial arrest

SALT LAKE CITY -- A lawyer for the Salt Lake City Police officer who arrested a nurse for refusing a blood draw from an unconscious patient says the officer wants to apologize, reports CBS affiliate KUTV.

Alex Wubbels' July 26 arrest was seen on a video that went viral earlier this month and caused widespread controversy. Officer Jeff Payne handcuffed the nurse and dragged her from the University of Utah hospital after she refused the blood draw, citing hospital policy. 

"Jeff would love the chance to sit down and apologize for what happened here," Payne's attorney Greg Skordas told the station. "If he could do this over he would do it over differently."

An investigation by a civilian review board found Payne had apparently become frustrated after a long wait to perform the blood draw and ignored the nurse's correct explanation that she could not allow it without a warrant or formal consent from the patient, who had been in a car crash.

Nurse Alex Wubbels is seen during an incident at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City in this still photo taken from police body-worn camera video taken July 26, 2017, and provided Sept. 1, 2017.

Nurse Alex Wubbels is seen during an incident at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City in this still photo taken from police body-worn camera video taken July 26, 2017, and provided Sept. 1, 2017.

Salt Lake City Police Department/Handout via Reuters

The detective had support from his supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, who said Wubbels could be arrested if she didn't comply.

Salt Lake City police officials have since apologized for the arrest, changed their blood-draw policies and placed Payne and Tracy on paid administrative leave after the video from police body cameras drew widespread attention online.

An internal investigation found evidence that the officers violated several policies. Police Chief Mike Brown is now weighing possible punishment that could include firing.

Skordas said he's not making any excuses for his client.

"There is no question that Jeff made a mistake," Skordas told the station. "I can understand the public being upset this was a troubling event."

But he said there is more to this story than meets the eye.

"There is the side of this that Jeff would like to tell at some point and I think that will happen," Skordas said.        

The detective's discipline history has since been released in response to a public-records request from The Associated Press and other media outlets as multiple investigations play out.

Payne was previously reprimanded for sexually harassing a female co-worker, according to police documents released amid investigations into the arrest that became a flashpoint in the debate over police use of force.

Internal affairs investigations by Salt Lake City police confirmed allegations that Payne harassed a department employee in a "severe and persistent" way in 2013. It included several incidents of unwanted physical contact and a disparaging email, the records say.

Skordas said Monday that the reprimand is a problem, but it's only part of Payne's decorated 27-year record with the department.

Payne also faced a vehicle-chase complaint from the Utah Highway Patrol in 1995 that resulted in a two-week suspension without pay, according to the records. The documents didn't details the complaint but said he violated the police code of ethics on cooperation with other officers and courtesy toward other agencies.

Her lawyers are looking into Payne's history and how the city has dealt with prior incidents, said attorney Karra Porter. 

Wubbels hasn't sued the city, though Porter has said that could change.