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Utah officer who brutally arrested nurse for complying with law just got a huge reality check

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The FBI has announced their investigating a police detective who arrested a Utah nurse for refusing to break the law. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A Salt Lake City police detective who incited rage across the country on Friday is finally beginning to feel the consequences of his actions.

What happened

Detective Jeff Payne was videoed on July 26 assaulting and arresting a hospital nurse who refused to give him blood vials of one of her patients. Payne neither had a warrant for the blood, nor did he have probable cause or the patient's consent to draw it. That means he was constitutionally barred from drawing the blood.

After Payne put the nurse, Alex Wubbels, in handcuffs, he placed her in his police vehicle. She was later released and not charged with a crime.

Body cam footage from several officers captured the incident.

Bad decisions have consequences

Payne, a trained phlebotomist, was initially only suspended from the city police department's blood-draw department, but remained on otherwise full active-duty. Now the city has made a much stiffer decision about Payne's future.

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, city officials have placed Payne and another officer on administrative leave pending a full investigation into the incident. The decision to the suspend the officers came Friday afternoon. The name of the second officer was not released.

In addition, the Salt Lake County district attorney Sim Gill announced he has explored the possibility of opening a criminal investigation into the incident. He said Friday: "On the face of the evidence, there is concern that is raised about this officer’s conduct. But the whole point of an investigation is to gather the information about this situation."

Mayor Jackie Biskupski and SLC police chief Mike Brown said at a press conference and in a joint statement that they've spoken with Wubbles and apologized to her. They also reiterated department policy changes.

Two important questions

Wubbles and her attorney released the full footage of the incident during a press conference on Thursday. They said they had no plans to sue the city, but explained they met with the press because they felt the city wasn't doing enough in response to the alarming incident.

If the city continues to drag its feet, Wubbles said she would have no choice but to sue. She said her only goal is to prevent what happened to her from happening to others.

But, if the city really is interested in getting to the bottom of the incident like Biskupski and Brown claim, why did it take Wubbles releasing the footage to the press to finally get a substantive response from the city?

It's clear to many that Payne's actions deserve dismissal and potential criminal prosecution. So what's the real reason for the action Salt Lake City officials are now taking, more than one month after the incident. Are they actually interested in transparency and decency or are they just saving face now that the footage is public?

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