Nurse Alex Wubbels’ arrest is a prime example of ongoing police brutality in the U.S.
The Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) fired a police officer Wednesday who was caught on video roughly arresting Wubbels for refusing to violate hospital policy.
Wubbels was working in the burn unit July 26 when Detective Jeff Payne arrested her for refusing to draw an unconscious patient’s blood. This incident was caught on video.
The patient, an Idaho reserve police officer who works as a truck driver, had been brought in after a car crash near Salt Lake City, according to CNN. Payne’s report states he wanted a blood sample to prove the truck driver did nothing wrong.
Holding a printout of the hospital’s policy, Wubbels is seen in the video telling the officer, “The three things that allow us to do that (draw blood) are if you have an electronic warrant, patient consent or patient under arrest.” Payne’s request met none of these qualifications.
However, the unlawful nature of Payne’s demands did not stop him from arresting Wubbels and forcibly dragging her out of the hospital after she, at the direction of her supervisor, refrained from taking the sample for police.
Since the video’s release, the SLCPD has received so much public criticism that even Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski publicly condemned and apologized for Payne’s behavior, calling it unacceptable – and rightly so.
Wubbels was respectfully performing her job by protecting the rights of a vulnerable patient. Unfortunately, it is hard to say that Payne respectfully performed his job as he roughly jerked her out of the hospital despite her cries.
Rather than an isolated incident, the inexcusable treatment and arrest of Wubbels is but an example of the systemic problem of excessively forceful policing in the U.S.
A 2015 report published by the U.S. Department of Justice, which analyzed surveys conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics between 2002 and 2011, found that “of those who experienced (nonfatal) force during their most recent contact (with a police officer), approximately three-quarters described the verbal (71 percent) or physical (75 percent) force as excessive.”
Further, the Washington Post reports that there have been 675 cases of fatal force by police officers just in 2017—that’s more than two lives taken by law enforcement officials every day.
One cannot help but wonder how many of those cases involved officers being disproportionately violent.
Clearly, police brutality is still prevalent. This well-documented incident between Wubbels and Payne should serve as a reminder that even the people who adhere to the law can be ruthlessly attacked by the officers who swear allegiance to protect it.