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Nurse Alex Wubbels' arrest sparks growing wave of criticism

Investigation of Utah nurse arrest

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Salt Lake City Police Department has endured a growing wave of public criticism after body camera footage was released showing one of its officers arrest a nurse when she refused to allow officers to draw a patient's blood.

The criticism continued Saturday night, as about 100 protesters shouted outside in the courtyard of the police department.

The protesters asked for the firing of Detective Jeff Payne who was shown on the video arresting University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26.

Those who gathered at a Utah Against Police Brutality rally also called for more transparency from government officials.

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

Protesters chanted, "Acts of police brutality, not in our community," and called for justice for Wubbels as they held signs declaring, "Hands off our nurses" and "Fire Detective Payne."

The footage has resulted in a public apology from the city's police chief and a criminal investigation by the district attorney's office, CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil reports. Two officers are on paid administrative leave.

The body camera footage captured the moment Wubbels was arrested in the hospital's burn unit.

"I'm just a nurse trying to protect a patient," Wubbels says in the video moments before her arrest.

"Believe it or not I'm trying to protect him to," Payne says.

"It's so blatantly obvious what was right and what was wrong," Wubbels told CBS News, "and I was not wrong."

Utah nurse arrested for objecting to police drawing blood from unconscious patient

The victim, an Idaho reserve police officer who works as a truck driver, had been brought in after being in a fiery car crash near Salt Lake City.

Payne's written report said he wanted to take a blood sample to show the victim did nothing wrong.

Wubbels explained to Payne that it was against hospital policy and the law to take blood as evidence from an unconscious patient without a warrant or an arrest. She put her supervisor on speakerphone.

"You're making a huge mistake because you're threatening a nurse," the supervisor said.

That's when things escalated.

Nurse says she was arrested for doing her job

"No, we're done," Payne said. "We're done. You're under arrest."

Wubbels was detained for about 20 minutes before being released.

"I was alarmed by what I saw in the video," Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said.

The department is conducting an internal investigation and has changed its blood-draw policy.

"I wanna just continue the conversation," Wubbels told CBS News. "We need re-education, and I will be waiting to hear what Chief Brown decides should be done with his employees."

Nurse Alex Wubbels is shown 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 shown 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

Wubbels said if she had to she would take the same action again.

"My co-workers would've done the exact same thing," Wubbels told CBS News. "This is what we do. This is our profession."

Wubbels hasn't taken any legal action, but she said that's not off the table. The police department where the patient worked issued a statement thanking the nurse and the hospital staff, saying "protecting the rights of others is truly a heroic act."

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