SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 100 people gathered Saturday at the Public Safety Building for a rally protesting police conduct against a University Hospital nurse who refused to allow a blood draw from an unconcious patient.
Nurse Alex Wubbels was dragged out of the University Hospital Burn Unit by a police officer when she didn't follow orders to draw blood from an unconcious patient. Police body camera video of the incident went viral hours after it was released Friday.
Protesters met in front of the downtown Public Safety Building around 6 p.m., shouting for justice for Wubbels. Karra Porter, the lawyer representing Wubbels, spoke to the crowd at the event, along with representatives from Utah Against Police Brutality.
"It was Alex who released this video," Porter said. "She realized that there are many times when a person is bullied or harassed and there is no evidence of it. She felt she owed it to everyone that this has ever happened to."
Wubbels wanted to start a dialogue when she released the video, her attorney said, but the nurse didn't expect that dialogue to spread across the world.
"Thank goodness for bodycam footage," she said as protestors cheered. "It protects everyone by showing the truth of what happens."
The 20-minute video shows Wubbels working her shift as a charge nurse when she was forcibly pulled outside by a veteran police officer, handcuffed, and put into an unmarked police car.
The Salt Lake City Police Department announced that the officer involved in the video, Jeff Payne, had been placed on paid administrative leave.
Wubbels was arrested after refusing to give Payne vials of blood that he needed for an investigation because she said he did not have a warrant or meet any other criteria needed for taking blood.
The nurse was later released by police and no charges were filed against her. The Unified Police Department is conducting an independent investigation into the controversial July 26 arrest.
"We talk about one bad cop who did one random act of violence against a member of our community," said Stephen Christian, one of the speakers at the rally. "But what we see is not an act of violence, but a culture of unaccountability and lack of transparency from our police."
Sarah Johnson, director of Utah Women Unite, also spoke against police brutality at the rally.
"Alex did not violate the law. Alex stood up for the constitutionally protected rights of her patient," she said. "I'm here to thank Alex Wubbels on behalf of all humanity."
The University of Utah released a statement Friday expressing support for Wubbels' actions.
"We are proud of her decision to focus first and foremost on the care and well-being of her patient," the statement read. "She followed procedures and protocols in this matter and was acting in her patient's best interest. We have worked with our law enforcement partners on this issue to ensure an appropriate process for moving forward."
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski also denounced the incident Friday, calling the arrest "unjust" and "unacceptable."
"No medical professional in Salt Lake City should be hindered from performing their duties, and certainly not be fearful of the police officers they come into contact and work in partnership (with) often to save the lives of others," she said at news conference.