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Utah Nurse Gets $500,000 for False Arrest

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

The July confrontation in Utah made headlines nationwide: a University Hospital nurse standing off a Salt Lake City police officer, refusing to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient involved in a car crash. Alex Wubbels correctly pointed out to Detective Jeff Payne the patient was not under arrest, Payne did not have a warrant to obtain the blood, and that he could not obtain consent from the unconscious man.

Payne arrested Wubbels anyway, ostensibly for obstruction of justice, but the nurse was released less than an hour later and never charged. Today, Wubbels and her attorney announced they have reached a settlement with the city and the university that owns the hospital for $500,000.

Civil Settlement

"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," Wubbels during a press conference. "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 that I went through."

The nurse announced she will use a portion of the settlement funds to help people get body camera footage of incidents involving themselves for free. Wubbels also said she will make a donation to the Utah Nurses Association and will help spearhead the #EndNurseAbuse campaign by the American Nurses Association. According to reports, the settlement bars future civil litigation over the matter.

Criminal Matters

Still, a criminal investigation into Wubbels' arrest remains ongoing, involving the Unified Police Department, the FBI, and the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office. In September, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced an internal affairs investigation had found Payne and his watch commander Lt. James Tracy violated several department policies during their interaction with Wubbels, and the city's independent Police Civilian Review Board determined both officers violated department policies. The Salt Lake Police Department fired Payne, and demoted Tracey to the rank of officer.

The University of Utah is splitting the costs of the settlement with the city after reports found university officers failed to defuse the situation or defend Wubbels from arrest.

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