Fired Cop's Attorney Argues His Client Is Being Punished Unfairly Because The Public Got To See His Misconduct

from the but-for-self-inflicted-video dept

A little over a month ago, body cam footage of a police officer trying to bully a nurse into breaking the law went viral. Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne wrapped up his failed intimidation attempt by arresting nurse Alex Wubbels for following her hospital's policy on blood draws. If there are no exigent circumstances and the person not suspected of criminal activity, police need a warrant to draw blood.

None of those factors were present when Detective Payne demanded the hospital draw blood from an accident victim. The victim was, in fact, a reserve police officer from an Idaho law enforcement agency, who had been hit head-on by a fleeing suspect. This officer later died from his injuries. He was in a coma when Detective Payne began demanding the hospital hand over some blood, obviously in no condition to consent to the search.

The entire bodycam video of the incident can be seen below.

Payne argued, after being fired for violating department blood draw policies (and for violating a Supreme Court decision, but Payne isn't expected to know the laws directly affecting his position on the PD's blood draw team), he arrested Wubbels because he "didn't want to create a scene" in the emergency room. If he hadn't arrested her, or demanded she violate both the law and hospital policy, there would have been no scene to be concerned about.

Instead, Payne thought he could intimidate his way through this. Now he's out of a job and attempting to sue his way back in. (Side note: Payne also lost his moonlighting gig as a paramedic as the body cam footage also caught him saying he would start routing "good patients" to another hospital and bring Wubbels' ER "transients.")

His lawyer is making a hell of an argument: Payne was unfairly fired because the public saw him violating department policies.

Attorney Greg Skordas, who represents Payne, said his client plans to appeal a firing he considers unfair and over the top. Skordas said Payne would still be employed if the body camera footage hadn't generated so much attention and blown the events out of proportion.

There are (at least) two ridiculous implications contained in this statement.

First is the implication that the only "proper "investigation is one that clears the officer of wrongdoing and/or results in the most minimal of discipline. The second follows the first: Skordas is basically affirming law enforcement agencies rarely hand out proportionate discipline unless forced to by public outcry. Neither are good looks for Skordas, his client, or his former employer.

The internal investigation reached the same conclusions anyone would have after viewing the body camera footage: both Payne and his supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, acted in bad faith during the incident, using both intimidation and a profound -- perhaps even deliberate -- misconstruing of applicable laws in hopes of taking blood from an accident victim (and fellow police officer).

Beneath Skordas' argument is another ugly assertion: his client feels he's being unfairly treated because a police camera captured him behaving exactly the way he behaved when he arrested a nurse for following hospital policy and a Supreme Court decision. Detective Payne deprived someone of their liberty -- albeit briefly -- for daring to stand up for the rights of her patient. That's about as ugly as it gets.

Filed Under: alex wubbels, blood draws, jeff payne, salt lake city, wrongful termination

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  1. icon
    Bergman (profile), 18 Oct 2017 @ 2:24am

    Re: Waah! Not fair! I didn't win!

    It goes beyond that. Any law that creates a less privileged class of citizen is unconstitutional, period. If this guy wins his lawsuit, it will establish a precedent that video evidence of you committing crimes is unfair under the law if used against you.

    Since that is pretty much the core principle of our entire legal system, that evidence of wrongdoing is evidence of wrongdoing, then any criminal could use the same defense, and denying it to them would make them a less privileged class of citizen.

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