Wednesday, September 6, 2017

CEO of Utah hospital is outraged over police abuse in burn unit, but his nurse got away from rogue cops with relatively mild damage, compared to many others

Nurse Alex Wubbels being manhandled by Utah cops.
The CEO of a Utah Hospital, where police recently roughed up and falsely arrested a nurse, has vowed that such an event "will not happen again." Gordon Crabtree's outrage is understandable, but the public should realize that the abuse nurse Alex Wubbels experienced was mild compared to what many other Americans receive from encounters with cops.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on a Missouri case where prosecutors are alleged to have helped cover up police abuse. We've seen similar corruption involving cops and prosecutors in a case where Greene County deputies left my wife, Carol, with a shattered left arm. Between the news out of Missouri and Utah, one might wonder if our entire law-enforcement apparatus is a hopelessly corrupt sewer.

As for the case in Salt Lake City, CEO Crabtree made it clear in a Labor Day news conference he would not tolerate rogue cops on University of Utah Hospital property. From a report at the Salt Lake Tribune:

Crabtree took time Monday to praise Wubbels and to describe changes that have been implemented. Crabtree also said the University of Utah’s attorneys are considering whether to take action against Salt Lake City police and Jeff Payne, the detective who arrested Wubbels. Crabtree didn’t elaborate.

“His actions were out of line,” Crabtree said of Payne. “There’s absolutely no tolerance for that kind of behavior in our hospital.”

There should be no tolerance for that kind of police behavior anywhere. But Crabtree might not realize that, while the incident in his hospital burn unit was ugly, it can get much uglier than that out in the real world. In fact, an ongoing case in St. Louis -- not far from where we now live -- centers around efforts of prosecutors to cover up police abuse. You can rest assured we will be keeping track of that case.

For several months now, Carol and I have been getting a close-up view of cop and prosecutor corruption in Missouri. It's so bad that Carol still is fighting bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges -- even though the case should have been dismissed, by law, months ago. It's a classic "cover charge," which cops concoct against victims they know have strong civil cases against them.

Our experience in Missouri has some similarities to events in Utah. But let's look first at some of the differences:

* Thankfully, Wubbels appears to have escaped with no injuries. Carol wasn't so fortunate. Her left arm was shattered so severely during an unlawful eviction at our rented apartment that it required trauma surgery for repair.

* Wubbels was arrested and handcuffed, but reports indicate she was detained for only about 20 minutes. Carol was arrested and handcuffed twice, taken to jail twice.

* Wubbels was accosted in the workplace. Carol was brutalized at home.

* Prosecutors did not follow through with any charges against Wubbels. Prosecutors have gone out of their way to bring false charges against Carol.

What about similarities? Hare are a few:

* Wubbels tried to explain to cops that they could not draw blood from an unconscious patient (who could not give consent) without a warrant. I tried to explain to cops that our eviction was unlawful on multiple grounds and was stayed by a notice of appeal we had filed the day before. Wubbels and I both learned that cops are not known for listening and reasoning skills. We also learned that cops tend to have zero knowledge of law and procedure -- and they care about law and procedure even less.

* Wubbels' was a classic false arrest. Cops placed her under arrest, essentially, for doing her job to protect patient rights and privacy. Carol's was a false arrest that came only after cops had beaten her up. Even the Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information in the case present no evidence that Carol even touched a deputy, much less assaulted one.

* In both cases, cops displayed the maturity level of third graders. Cops hinted in investigative reports that Carol broke her own arm by flailing about in the back seat of a squad car. The Utah cop, who also served as an ambulance driver until he was fired from that job, was caught on video saying: "I’ll bring them all the transients and take good patients elsewhere.”

* Here's a strange one: Reports show that Officer Payne told Wubbels, "We're done, you're under arrest." The cop who broke Carol's arm repeatedly used the phrase, "You're done, you're done." He was like a parrot who knew only two words.

Consider these words from Wubbels, part of  a Labor Day interview on NBC's Today Show. Carol and I know exactly where she is coming from:

"I feel a sense of urgency for this conversation,'' Alex Wubbels said in an exclusive interview on TODAY Monday. "We need to make this better. This can't be happening, it should've never happened, and if I have anything to say about it, it won't ever happen again."

The Salt Lake City police department announced that it put the officer who arrested Wubbels, Detective Jeff Payne, on paid administrative leave along with a second police officer who was not identified. The two will remain on leave "pending the results of an investigation. . . . "

In a written report obtained by the Salt Lake City Tribune, Payne said he wanted the blood sample to determine whether the patient, a truck driver, had illicit substances in his system at the time of a crash with another driver who was fleeing police.

She still doesn't understand why Payne became so upset about her refusal to draw blood.

"I have no idea,'' Wubbels said. "I personally didn't think there was any sense of urgency. I would have liked for a chance for him to sort of talk with one of his superiors prior to doing what he did to me. I don't know what his problem was, if you will."

His problem was that he's an asshole with a badge -- and those are among the most dangerous creatures on earth.

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