The veteran Utah cop who drew national outrage after body cam footage showed him manhandling and violently arresting a hospital nurse was fired and his supervisor was demoted following an internal review by the Salt Lake City Police Department.
Police Chief Mike Brown issued a termination letter, obtained by the Deseret News, to Detective Jeff Payne on Tuesday. “I have lost faith and confidence in your ability to continue to serve as a member of the Salt Lake City Police Department,” Brown’s letter reads.
“I am deeply troubled that an officer with 27 years of experience would choose to pursue the course of action and behave in the manner that you did,” the letter adds. “For any officer, let alone one with your tenure, this is simply unacceptable.”
Brown also demoted Payne’s supervisor, James Tracy, from lieutenant to police officer, calling him the “catalyst” that led to nurse Alex Wubbels’ July 26 arrest at University of Utah Hospital, according to the Deseret News.
Body cam footage shows Wubbels refusing Payne’s demand that she draw blood from an unconscious patient who had been involved in a car crash. Wubbels, head nurse of the hospital’s burn unit, is seen calmly telling the detective that a warrant or the patient’s consent would be required.
“I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do, that’s all,” she says in the footage.
Payne, however, tells Wubbels, “I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow” before chasing the nurse down and handcuffing her. In video footage, the nurse is seen sobbing and screaming for help. “You’re assaulting me!” she yells at the officer as he shoves her.
Payne said he had explicitly been told by his supervisor that he should arrest Wubbels if she refused to cooperate.
In his letter to Tracy this week, also obtained by the Deseret News, the police chief condemned the supervisor’s “unacceptable” lack of “judgement and leadership.”
“I no longer believe that you can retain a leadership position in the department,” Brown wrote. “I am troubled that an officer with your experience would fail to exercise sound discretion and good judgment in this matter.”
Payne and Tracey have five days to appeal Brown’s decision, NPR reported.
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