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A cop’s perspective on Utah nurse arrest: So much wrong



I’ve written before that “as the son and brother of heroic police officers, I know a little bit about law enforcement – exactly enough to know that I know practically nothing,” and most people know even less. As such, when I see negative press about a police officer, I react in one of two ways: either “that was completely, unquestionably justified based on even rudimentary knowledge of police work,” or “I’m not sure; let’s wait for more facts.”

On rare occasions, there’s a third response, which can be best characterized as “why on Earth did that cop just drag a Utah nurse out to his squad car after she refused to draw an unconscious patient’s blood without a warrant?” You might notice that this category is oddly specific. Like I said, it’s very rare.

On July 26, a nurse at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City defied a detective’s order to draw the blood of an unconscious truck driver who had collided head-on with a vehicle that was fleeing police. The suspect was killed in the crash, while the semi driver was rendered unconscious.

The officer, Detective Jeff Payne, informed Nurse Alex Wubbels that it was protocol to draw blood from any party involved in such an accident, but Wubbels countered (rightly) that it was against the law for her to do so without following search and seizure provisions under the 4th Amendment. Wubbels insisted that she would not comply with the officer’s demands without either a warrant or consent from the patient, or unless the patient were under arrest.

Payne became frustrated and placed Wubbels under arrest, forcibly escorting her to his car, where Wubbels waited until she was eventually released with no charges filed.

See the video for yourself here.

In my amateur opinion, the officer was clearly in the wrong and attempting to violate the basic human rights of both the nurse and the patient. But since I try to defer to expert testimony, I thought it would be best to criticize Detective Payne through the lens of experienced officers: my brother (B) and my dad (D).

Let’s take a look step by step, according to an adapted list of the metrics I’ve been given by police on how to react to police controversy:

What is the law:

B: “We have to get a warrant. … The reason for arrest is the thing that bothers me.”

D: “Clearly the cop overstepped his bounds. he violated her civil rights, the nurse’s, and attempted to violate somebody else’s civil rights.” Additionally, had Wubbels drawn the blood anyway, “the blood evidence would have become what they call in law ‘the fruit of the poisonous tree.’ It would then be thrown out as would their case, and justifiably so…because it was obtained contrary to the fourth amendment, because it violated their protection against unlawful search and seizure.”

Whose side of the story have I heard?

In other words, a lot has been made of Payne’s malfeasance. But did Wubbels do anything wrong?

B: “She did a good job requesting a warrant. When she was told she was under arrest, it would have helped if instead of trying to run away from the cop and screaming for help like she was being kidnapped, she asked for his supervisor and asked for a lawyer. I can’t blame her for being distressed, but when people act out like she did, rather than allow a huge scene to be made in the emergency room an officer is going to remove someone quickly. I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but if people freak out then it escalates, and a simple arrest, even a false one, can turn into a struggle.”

Put yourself in the officer’s shoes:

Even if Payne were right about the protocol, what should he have done differently?

D: “Even if he thought the nurse was wrong, he had many other avenues to take other than to bully and arrest her. He knew that and clearly acted with malice and should be gone. … Other avenues…would have been to go above her head or get the warrant or place the person under arrest if they had any other probable cause and he could’ve then pulled the blood, or ask for another nurse to do it.

What are the police trained to do?

This is particularly important since many are calling for department-wide trainings on how to handle this sort of thing. Is that even necessary, or should the cop have known better?

D: “It’s basic training for him that would have told him that he was violating these people’s civil rights. Every cop knows you could not draw blood from somebody without their consent or without a warrant. That is elementary. … He acted like a thug, a common schoolyard bully.”

What should happen now?

D: “I believe the cop should be fired and the nurse should be compensated by the city. … Fire the clown and compensate that poor nurse who was treated as she was. The cop acted like a thug and a bully. That’s why I say fire him. He is the type you do not want in that profession.”

Wubbels has stated that she won’t be filing a suit against the city, but that doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t offer restitution as a show of good faith. The hospital has come to Wubbels’s defense, and it appears the situation is being dealt with responsibly.

Feel free to copy this pattern of evaluation for future police incidents. It helps deter immediate outrage and remain sufficiently objective. As we’ve seen here, it doesn’t automatically excuse the cop’s actions either. It always pays to be level headed amid controversy.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

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  1. Matthew Oliver

    September 2, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I think you have neglected to address some of the more troubling police behaviors documented in this case. What is the responsibility of the other cops that stood by and watched as she and her rights were violated? Those cops swore an oath to protect and serve, who were they protecting? If a citizen had assaulted and absconded with her they would be arrested. Why has no one arrested Payne?

  2. Kimberly Davis

    September 3, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I would like to hear your, your dad’s, and your brothers response to the above please. I too was wondering why none of the other officers helped her?

  3. Vet eran (HwyFuzz)

    September 3, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    This is unusual since the discussion is in regards to implied consent. Something you give when you accept your license. They were checking to see that he had NO jntoxicants in his body which means there’s no PC or even RS to believe he was intoxicated. Many departments including mine have policies based on laws. In the NYPD it two hours from the time of arrest to test. As stated above – fruits of the poisonous tree would have tossed this case. Should we sit her and Monday morning QB and suggest the Detective be fired for this? No. Due process is a beautiful thing. If the three of you disagree with his discretion fine – but we all know how things work – department policy formed from case law both state and federal will be applied. If he was following the law and he applied his actions in good faith – well you may want to review how you Monday morning QB the cop next to you that does something that may aplear wrong but was within the legal scope of the law. I don’t know how much time you, your brother and dad have on the job. But with 30 plus years on these are points I would lay out to my sons.

    • Tim

      September 4, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      The implied consent agreements ONLY apply to “if you want to keep your license” which is a contract/civil agreement, NOT a criminal one. You can, even if awake, STILL say NO to the blood-draw — you just risk losing your license. So that was really a bad argument.
      The patient must give consent for the draw for it to be constitutional.
      You don’t need to prove you were NOT on drugs, they need to have probable cause that you were. All evidence with this crash showed it was primarily the fault of the criminal suspect driver (and possibly the pursuing police) and that the burn-victim was not at all at fault!

      FURTHER the implied consent was rendered unconstitutional on June 23, 2016 in the case of Birchfield v. North Dakota.

  4. Richie Angel

    September 4, 2017 at 12:19 am

    No Monday morning QBing here. The Supreme Court ruled in 2016 in Birchfield v. North Dakota that implied consent can only be justified for “warrantless breath tests incident to arrests for drunk driving but not warrantless blood tests.” This was not an incident of arrest and the request was for a blood sample. Implied consent holds no water in this case.

  5. CB

    September 6, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve found that when people say, “I don’t mean to sound like…(fill in the blank)” they usually are the thing they say they don’t mean to sound like, i.e. your brother being a jerk. When someone “freaks out” with an encounter with an officer, it SHOULD be in the officer’s training and skills to deescalate, not the opposite. Otherwise aren’t you (your brother) saying that only people who are accepting, nice and easy going when they are arrested, even falsely, are the acceptable arrestees? Ridiculous in my book and in my response, yes, I admit want to sound like a jerk because I won’t accept such a ludicrous response.

    I hope that any encounter I ever have hereto forward… is with your Dad or someone’s whose training, judgment, integrity and moral compass appears to be that of one with high standards such as his.

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Argentina: Submarine missing a year found deep in Atlantic



Argentina Submarine missing a year found deep in Atlantic

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s navy announced early Saturday that searchers found the missing submarine ARA San Juan deep in the Atlantic a year after it disappeared with 44 crewmen aboard.

The vessel was detected 800 meters (2,625 feet) deep in waters off the Valdes Peninsula in Argentine Patagonia, the statement said.

The navy said a “positive identification” had been made by a remote-operated submersible from the American ship Ocean Infinity, which was hired for the latest search for the missing vessel.

The discovery was announced just two days after families of the missing sailors held a commemoration one year after the sub disappeared on Nov. 15, 2017.

On Thursday, on the anniversary of the disappearance, President Mauricio Macri said the families of the submariners should not feel alone and delivered an “absolute and non-negotiable commitment” to find “the truth.”

Macri promised a full investigation after the submarine was lost. Federal police raided naval bases and other buildings last January as part of the probe, soon after the government dismissed the head of the navy.

The San Juan was returning to its base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata when contact was lost.

Argentina gave up hope of finding survivors after an intense search aided by 18 countries, but the navy has continued searching for the vessel.

The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in the mid-1980s and was most recently refitted between 2008 and 2014. During the $12 million retrofitting, the vessel was cut in half and had its engines and batteries replaced. Experts said refits can be difficult because they involve integrating systems produced by different manufacturers, and even the tiniest mistake during the cutting phase can put the safety of the ship and crew at risk.

The navy said previously the captain reported on Nov. 15 that water entered the snorkel and caused one of the sub’s batteries to short-circuit. The captain later communicated that it had been contained.

Some hours later, an explosion was detected near the time and place where the San Juan was last heard from. The navy said the blast could have been caused by a “concentration of hydrogen” triggered by the battery problem reported by the captain.

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Fire deaths rise to 71 ahead of Trump’s California visit



Fire deaths rise to 71 ahead of Trumps California visit

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — With the confirmed death toll at 71 and the list of unaccounted for people more than 1,000, authorities in Northern California on Friday searched for those who perished and those who survived the fiercest of wildfires ahead of a planned visit by President Donald Trump.

The president on Saturday is expected to get a look at the grief and damage caused by the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, and he could face resentment from locals for blaming the inferno on poor forest management in California.

In an interview taped Friday and scheduled for broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, “This should have been all raked out.”

Deputies found eight more bodies Friday, bringing the death toll to 71.

The number of people unaccounted for grew from 631 on Thursday night to more than 1,000 on Friday, but Sheriff Kory Honea said the list was dynamic and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names.

He said the roster probably includes some who fled the blaze and do not realize they’ve been reported missing.

“We are still receiving calls, we’re still reviewing emails,” Honea said Friday.

Some on the list have been confirmed as dead by family and friends on social media. Others have been located and are safe, but authorities haven’t gotten around to marking them as found.

Tamara Conry said she should never have been on the list.

“My husband and I are not missing and never were!” Conry wrote Thursday night on Facebook. “We have no family looking for us. … I called and left a message to take our names off.”

Authorities compiled the list by going back to listen to all the dispatch calls they received since the fire started, to make sure they didn’t miss anyone.

In last year’s catastrophic wildfires in California wine country, Sonoma County authorities at one point listed more than 2,000 people as missing. But they slowly whittled down the number. In the end, 44 people died in several counties.

The wildfire this time all but razed the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow on Nov. 8, destroying 9,700 houses and 144 apartment buildings, authorities said.

Firefighters were gaining ground against the blaze, which blackened 222 square miles (575 square kilometers). It was 45 percent contained and posed no immediate threat to populated areas. Crews managed to stop it from spreading toward Oroville, population 19,000.

A search and rescue dog searches for human remains at the Camp Fire, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. (AP Photo/John Locher)

This patch of California, a former Gold Rush region in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is to some extent Trump country, with Trump beating Hillary Clinton in Butte County by 4 percentage points in 2016.

But some survivors resent that Trump took to Twitter two days after the disaster to blame the wildfires on poor forest mismanagement. He threatened to withhold federal payments from California.

“If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you’re going to be accepted? You’re not going to have a parade,” Maggie Crowder of Magalia said Thursday outside an informal shelter at a Walmart parking lot in Chico.

But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close: “I think by maybe seeing it he’s going to be like ‘Oh, my goodness,’ and it might start opening people’s eyes.”

In his Fox News interview on the eve of his visit, the president repeated his criticism. Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said, “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”

Nick Shawkey, a captain with the state fire agency, said the president’s tweet blaming poor forest management was based on a “misunderstanding.” The federal government manages 46 percent of land in California.

“The thing he’s tweeting about is his property,” Shawkey said.

California’s outgoing and incoming governors said they would join Trump on Saturday.

Democrats Gov. Jerry Brown and governor-elect Gavin Newsom said they welcomed the president’s visit and “now is a time to pull together for the people of California.” Brown and Newsom have been vocal critics of Trump.

There were also worries the presidential visit would be disruptive.

“It’s already a zoo here and I don’t care who the president is. He needs to wait because the traffic’s already horrendous,” said Charlotte Harkness, whose home in Paradise burned down. “He could just tweet something nice — three words: ‘I am sorry,’ and that’s fine.”

More than 450 searchers continued looking for human remains in the ashes.

Around 52,000 people have been driven out and have gone to shelters, motels and the homes of friends and relatives. With winter coming on, many are seeking answers on what assistance will be provided.

At the Chico Mall where the Federal Emergency Management Agency and others set up an assistance center, 68-year-old Richard Wilson sought information about lodging. His wife is nearly bedridden from lupus and fibromyalgia.

“We’re having to stay at a Marriott, which is like $100 a night, and we’re running out of money,” Wilson said as he stood outside in rubber sandals and no socks — the only footwear he had when he fled the flames that destroyed his home.

In Southern California , meanwhile, more residents were being allowed back in their homes near Los Angeles after a blaze torched an area the size of Denver and destroyed more than 600 homes and other structures. The blaze was 69 percent contained, authorities said.

At least three deaths were reported.

Schools across a large swath of the state were closed because of smoke, and San Francisco’s world-famous open-air cable cars were pulled off the streets.


Associated Press reporters Janie Har and Olga Rodriguez in San Francisco contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to show that Crowder spoke by Walmart and that Wilson spoke at an assistance center.

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Foreign Affairs

The Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions



Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

The United States is at a foreign affairs crossroads. One of our most important allies in the most important region in the world is being led by a man that U.S. intelligence (and pretty much everybody else) believes ordered the murder of a journalist living in our nation and writing for one of its biggest news outlets. How can we reconcile between what’s right and what’s smart?

Further evidence was leaked today that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. The CIA concluded this based on multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence, including phone calls intercepted between Khashoggi and Mohammed’s brother assuring Khashoggi’s safety if he went to the Saudi consulate where was murdered.

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.

Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.

This is much more complicated than deciding whether or not to punish Mohammed. The stakes are unfathomably high, including balance of power in the Middle East, a potential oil crisis that could cripple the world economy, and the future of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, what’s right and what’s smart are diametrically opposed in this situation.

What’s right?

Every ounce of evidence points to the near-certainty that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He was a permanent residence of the United States who lived in Virginia and worked at the Washington Post. While not a citizen, he lawfully earned the right to fall under our nation’s protections.

The right thing to do is to condemn the Crown Prince, even if that will irreversibly damage our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

What’s smart?

Based on the current geopolitical status quo, Saudi Arabia is our best proxy to keep Iran in check in the Middle East. They are also the reason the dollar is still the world’s reserve currency despite efforts by Russia, China, and other nations to change that. This status allows the dollar to maintain artificial stability. There are many factors in play that could cripple the dollar if Saudi Arabia and OPEC started dealing in other currencies, bur national debt alone would be enough to catastrophically collapse our entire economy if the world had the means to turn its collective back on us.

Saudi Arabia and the so-called “petrodollar” is the force that maintains the illusion of stability.

The arms we sell Saudi Arabia account for a substantial chunk of revenue and jobs in the United States, but more importantly it gives them the technological edge they need over Iran. If the Saudis turn to Russia or China, our influence over the region would diminish greatly.

The smart thing to do is to sweep this under the rug. Throw symbolic punishment at some sacrificial Saudi lambs and move on.

Time for change

There is no way to do what’s right and still do what’s smart, so it would seem the White House has to pick between the two.

Perhaps they don’t. Perhaps there’s a third option.

Even if we do the “right” thing by condemning Saudi Arabia Mohammed, ties will not deteriorate immediately. There will be a wind down during which time the Saudis will be looking for other partners and the Americans will be trying to salvage the relationship.

What if we didn’t? What if we acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia is more than just the country that murdered Khashoggi. Their human rights record is atrocious. They have directly or indirectly harmed the United States for years, including a significant role in terrorist attacks. They spread Wahhabism across the world. If you haven’t heard much about Wahhabism, it’s because the radical Islamic sect that drives the House of Saud is protected from media scrutiny. See Network, which only partially satirizes the influence the Saudis have on U.S. media.

Saudi Arabia is a horrible ally. They’re necessary because we’ve made them necessary, but if we drastically cut budgets and spending, the economic ramifications of a break with them would be mitigated. It’s time to make deals with nations that do not smile at us in public and subvert us in private. Nations that do not like us, including Brazil and Venezuela, could be brought under our wing to replace Saudi Arabia on the oil front. It’s unimaginable now, but we live in fast-moving times.

Also, build the Keystone XL pipeline.

As for stability in the Middle East, it’s time we go all-in with Israel. They are the only true democracy and the one nation in the Middle East we can count on to not stab us in the back. They are capable of being the check against Iran. Abandon all talks of a two-state solution, work with Israel as our primary proxy in the Middle East, and make Saudi Arabia turn to others for support.

All of this sounds dangerous because, well, it is. The dominoes that will fall when we take drastic measures against Saudi Arabia will be painful. But there’s one thing to consider before balking at this. We may be heading in this direction already. The difference is it wouldn’t be us initiating (and therefore prepared for) these changes. Saudi Arabia has been quietly seeking a better deal for decades. They haven’t found it yet, but someday they will. When that happens, they’ll pull the rug out from under us.

We should be the ones pulling the rug. If we’re not, the permanent repercussions will be devastating.

Radical change in our foreign affairs stance is long overdue. Saudi Arabia is the worst kind of ally to rely upon, not just because of Khashoggi but because of everything else they’ve done. None of this seems feasible now, but it may be the only path forward.

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