The FBI said this week they have initiated an investigation into the actions of a Salt Lake City police detective who arrested a Utah nurse on July 26 after she refused to break the law at his command.
It got criminal
Video of detective Jeff Payne arresting nurse Alex Wubbels after she refused to give him a patient’s blood vial has caused national uproar. Body camera footage of the incident shows Wubbels refusing to give the vial because Payne didn’t meet the lawful requirements for obtaining it.
When she continued to tell him she couldn’t hand over a vial, Payne became enraged and forcibly arrested Wubbels without cause. She was shortly released from custody and never charged with a crime.
After Wubbels released the body cam footage to the public, the consequences of Payne’s actions became very real for him. First he was placed on administrative leave from his job with the police department, then he was fired from his part-time job as a paramedic.
All the while, Salt Lake County district attorney Sam Gill was convening a criminal investigation into Payne’s actions. That investigation moved forward on Thursday when Gill asked the FBI for assistance and the FBI accepted the request.
What they’re doing
According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, the FBI will be investigating any potential breach in Wubbels’ civil rights.
More from the Tribune:
“The FBI opened a civil rights/color of law review of the matter when we found out about it in the media,” the release says.
Color of law crimes are acts done by officials — such as use of excessive force or police misconduct — that go beyond their lawful authority and willfully deprive a person of a right protected by the Constitution or federal law.
Gill wrote to the FBI’s Salt Lake City field office this week in a letter asking them “to examine and consider whether actions by Det. Payne, other police officers and law enforcement personnel and anyone else acting under the color of authority constitutes criminal conduct, criminal civil rights violations, or other violations of law.”
Payne has not yet been fired from his job at the SLT police department. The department is currently conducting a full internal investigation and will make a decision once it concludes.