Salt Lake City and University of Utah will each pay half of $500K settlement to nurse who blocked blood draw

Salt Lake City and the University of Utah will each pay half of a $500,000 payment that settles a dispute over the arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels after she barred a police officer from drawing blood from an unconscious patient.

The settlement, announced Tuesday, ended the possibility of a lawsuit by Wubbels, a University Hospital nurse whose July 26 arrest by Salt Lake City Police Department Detective Jeff Payne sparked widespread outrage after her attorney released body camera footage of the episode on Aug. 31.

Matthew Rojas, spokesman for Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, confirmed the city and university are each putting in $250,000 for the settlement.

“We’re glad we could come to a resolution with nurse Wubbels,” he said Thursday.

On Wednesday, hospital spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester described Wubbels as an outstanding nurse and said that “we commend her for putting the patient first.”

The arrest prompted the hospital to modify procedures and retrain staff regarding how law enforcement agencies interact with the U.’s health care system, Winchester said.

“Our hope is that the implementation of these new procedures will ensure a situation like this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

The patient was 43-year-old William Gray, a full-time truck driver and a part-time reserve officer with the Rigby, Idaho, police department. He was severely burned on nearly half of his body in the July 26 crash and died Sept. 25.

Payne arrived at the hospital a few hours after the collision to get a blood draw that had been requested by Logan police, who were investigating the crash. The detective insisted he had implied consent to get the sample but Wubbels repeatedly told him that hospital policy did not allow it.

Wubbels is heard on footage of the incident asking a University police officer to protect her because Payne had threatened her with arrest. The U. officer informed the nurse that if she interfered with Payne’s investigation, she would be obstructing justice and he would not prevent the detective from arresting her.

Payne eventually arrested Wubbels and handcuffed her. He placed her in a police car outside the hospital, then released her after about 20 minutes. Charges were never filed against the nurse.

Police Chief Mike Brown fired Payne and demoted the detective’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, to the rank of officer over the incident. Both men have appealed those actions to the Salt Lake City Civil Service Commission.