The Utah nurse arrested for refusing to draw blood on an unconscious patient is hoping the shocking video of the incident can bring change to policies about police interaction with the nursing community.
"I feel a sense of urgency for this conversation,'' Alex Wubbels said in an exclusive interview on TODAY Monday. "We need to make this better. This can't be happening, it should've never happened, and if I have anything to say about it, it won't ever happen again."
The Salt Lake City police department announced that it put the officer who arrested Wubbels, Detective Jeff Payne, on paid administrative leave along with a second police officer who was not identified. The two will remain on leave "pending the results of an investigation."
Wubbels was asked if she feels the punishment was adequate.
"I can' say that,'' she said. "I'm not here to police the police. The police need to do that if they're going to regain any kind of trust by me or the public."
No lawsuit has been filed by Wubbels, but she did not rule out the possibility. Payne did not respond to a request for comment by TODAY.
Wubbels' arrest was captured on 19 minutes of police bodycam footage from the incident on July 26 at the University of Utah Hospital. Her attorney, Karra Porter, who joined her on TODAY Monday, made the footage public on Aug. 31 at a news conference.
"It took me a while to really understand that I was in a traumatic experience and I needed that time to sort of give my emotions a chance to rest if you will, so that I could come out and be pragmatic and be effective in my communication,'' Wubbels said about waiting to release the video.
Payne can be seen insisting that Wubbels draw blood on an unconscious patient, which she refused, citing hospital protocol. The Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that a blood sample cannot be taken without patient consent or a warrant.
Payne then becomes increasingly angry, eventually dragging and handcuffing a distraught Wubbels, who can be heard screaming and saying she did nothing wrong. She was then detained for 20 minutes and released without being charged.
In a written report obtained by the Salt Lake City Tribune, Payne said he wanted the blood sample to determine whether the patient, a truck driver, had illicit substances in his system at the time of a crash with another driver who was fleeing police.
She still doesn't understand why Payne became so upset about her refusal to draw blood.
"I have no idea,'' Wubbels said. "I personally didn't think there was any sense of urgency. I would have liked for a chance for him to sort of talk with one of his superiors prior to doing what he did to me. I don't know what his problem was, if you will."
Wubbels has received an outpouring of support from fellow nurses across the country since the video was released.
"I think this resonates with people all over, and that's a really unfortunate problem that we have to fix,'' Wubbels said. "I strongly believe that with effective communication and better dialogue between our two agencies that we can potentially make this better."
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