This Detective Didn’t Like Being Told No

By KevinMarcilliat, In Criminal Defense, 0 Comments

“The dramatic video became another flashpoint in a national debate about police use of force and how officers treat civilians.” – TIME

“So, I have this,” Alex Wubbels said, referring to a printout she’s holding. Alex is a nurse in a Salt Lake City hospital. Her unconscious patient lay on a bed nearby. The printout reads: Obtaining Blood Samples for Police Enforcement from Patients Suspected to be Under the Influence. For the better part of an hour, Detective Jeff Payne has tried to convince Alex that she should just let him draw her patient’s blood.

Detective Payne evidently doesn’t like being told no.

“The three things that allow us to do that,” Alex dared protest, “are if you have an electronic warrant, patient consent, or patient under arrest […]. The patient can’t consent, he’s told me [the officer] repeatedly that he doesn’t have a warrant, and the patient is not under arrest.”

No warrant. No consent. No arrest.

“Okay,” the officer responds. “So I take it without those in place, I’m not going to get blood. Am I fair to surmise that?”

Detective Payne should have surmised that on his own, but at this point, Alex’s supervisor jumps in via speakerphone. He says that the officer is making a mistake, that he’s shooting the messenger. That’s when Detective Payne loses it: “We’re done,” he says to Alex. “You’re under arrest.” Watch the video and see Detective Payne charge Alex, push her out the doors of the hospital, and cuff her.

This is pure speculation, but as Detective Payne gave in to his frustration at being told no, and rushed forward to arrest Alex, he might’ve thought all this fuss was for no good reason. After all, Alex’s patient wasn’t a suspect, but an off-duty reserve police officer, who drove commercial trucks for a living. While on a delivery, the patient was hit by a suspect fleeing the Utah police (the suspect apparently died in the collision). Detective Payne simply wanted to clear the patient’s name.

But the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement outweighs Detective Payne’s frustration at being told no. Law enforcement expects us to follow the rules. We expect the same thing in return.