Alex Wubbels became a viral sensation back in 2017 when she was caught on video refusing to let the police draw blood from an unconscious patient. In the clip, the nurse can be seen calmly talking on the phone at a University of Utah Hospital while a police officer threatens to arrest her. She tells the officer that the patient’s blood cannot be drawn without a warrant unless the patient is under arrest. “This is something you guys agreed to with this hospital,” she explains.
The video ends with the officer lunging at Wubbels before leading her outside in handcuffs. The footage caused a stir on social media when it was first released and has since resurfaced on TikTok.
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After she was arrested, Wubbels sued Salt Lake City and the hospital before settling for $500,000.
“We all deserve to know the truth and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage and that’s what happened in my case,” Wubbels told reporters after the settlement was announced. “No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience that I went through.”
The patient who was unconscious during the incident was William Gray, 43, a full-time truck driver and a part-time reserve officer with the Rigby, Idaho, Police Department. Records show nearly half his body was severely burned in a July 26 crash. He died on Sept. 25, 2017.
The city and the university that owns the hospital will split the cost of settlement, according to The Associated Press. Wubbels added that she would use a portion of the funds to help other people get access to body camera footage when they are involved in incidents with the police. She also told reporters that she plans to donate to the Utah Nurses Association and help lead the #EndNurseAbuse campaign.
The Salt Lake City Police Department confirmed that it fired the officer involved in the dispute, Detective Jeff Payne, and demoted his watch commander, Lt. James Tracey, to the rank of officer. Both officers appealed the disciplinary action.
Greg Skordas, Payne’s attorney, said federal regulation requires a blood sample when a driver with a commercial driver license (CDL) is involved in a fatal accident, and that by obtaining a CDL, Gray is assumed to have consented to a blood draw. Skordas also said that Payne wanted to get a blood sample to make sure the injured man could keep his license.
“The police have to police themselves,” Wubbels said. “This is something I never would have expected to happen, but I’m also honored by the weight of it.”
Many fellow nurses and providers came to the nurse’s defense on social media.
“As an ER nurse, I support this nurse’s tenacity and protection of her patient,” wrote one person.
“I love how calm and professional she remained,” said another.
“I hope she won a DAISY Award for this and got so many other blessings. She chose her patient’s safety over her own. Such an admirable, amazing nurse,” wrote another user.