A Salt Lake City police detective was fired and his supervisor demoted Tuesday for their roles in the violent arrest of a nurse who was manhandled and shoved screaming into a squad car as she tried to protect the legal rights of an unconscious patient.
Detective Jeff Payne was fired and James Tracy, his watch commander, was demoted two ranks from lieutenant to officer after an internal review by the Salt Lake City Police Department found their actions toward the nurse violated department policy and undermined public trust.
“I have lost faith and confidence in your ability to continue to serve as a member of the Salt Lake City Police Department,” Chief Mike Brown wrote in a termination letter to Payne that was posted by the Deseret News.
“I am deeply troubled by your lack of sound, professional judgment and your discourteous, disrespectful and unwarranted behavior, which unnecessarily escalated a situation that could and should have been resolved in a manner far different from the course of action you chose to pursue,” the letter read.
Attorneys for Payne and Tracy told local media that they plan to appeal the decision.
Police body camera footage captured Payne erupting at nurse Alex Wubbels of the University of Utah Hospital on July 26 after she refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient, in accordance with hospital policy and federal law. He could be seen grabbing Wubbels by the arms, handcuffing her and forcing into an unmarked car as she screamed “you’re assaulting me” and “this is crazy.”
The footage went viral when Wubbels and her attorney released it in early September, prompting apologies from Brown and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, both of whom said Wubbels never should have been arrested.
Payne and Tracy were placed on leave pending the investigation, and Payne was fired from his part-time job as an ambulance driver.
Brown called Tracy the “catalyst that led to the arrest” in his letter Tuesday.