Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Utah nurse, the latest victim of cop abuse, says "police should police themselves," but our experience shows cops are likely to cover up and blame the victim

Cops arresting Utah nurse Alex Wubbels
(From cbsnews.com)
A Utah nurse, who has become the latest face for victims of police abuse, said yesterday she does not intend to call for any particular punishment of the officer who roughed her up and falsely arrested her in a Salt Lake City burn unit.

“I’m not here to police the police,” Alex Wubbels said on NBC‘s TODAY Show. ”The police need to do that if they’re going to regain any kind of trust by me or the public.” (Video is embedded at the end of this post.)

It's understandable that Wubbels did not want to risk being the target of blow back from powerful law-enforcement organizations. But Wubbels is dreaming if she thinks police are capable of policing themselves. My wife, Carol, knows that from firsthand experience -- and Carol was roughed up much worse by cops during our unlawful eviction in Springfield, Missouri, than was Wubbels in Salt Lake City. I've seen no reports that Wubbels received any injuries; Carol has a foot-long scar, plus all kinds of internal hardware that was required to surgically piece her arm back together after deputies shattered it. (See X-rays below.)

That's not to downplay Wubbels' experience. It was an example of gross police abuse, which has sparked national outrage, mainly because most of the incident was caught on video. This is from a report at the Salt Lake Tribune:

On July 26, Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne wanted Wubbels to draw the blood of 43-year-old William Gray, who was unconscious after being involved in a fiery crash earlier in the day in Logan. Wubbels refused, citing hospital policy against drawing the blood of someone without their consent or without a warrant for arrest. [Last] Thursday, body camera video was released of Payne shouting at Wubbels and handcuffing and arresting her on suspicion of obstruction of justice. Police released her after about 20 minutes.

A protest was conducted on Saturday evening in Salt Lake City:

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm
before seven hours of trauma surgery

Those who gathered at a Utah Against Police Brutality rally on Saturday evening asked for the detective’s immediate firing and called for more transparency from government officials.
“This was an egregious act of police violence against one of the most important people in our community — a nurse,” organizer David Newlin told the crowd. “Someone who gives her life, gives her time to heal the most vulnerable among us.”

Protesters chanted, “Acts of police brutality, not in our community,” and called for justice for Wubbels as they held signs declaring, “Hands off our nurses” and “Fire Detective Payne.”

Can police be trusted to handle this matter? Based on our experience, the answer is, "Hell, no!" Consider what cops have done in the aftermath of breaking Carol's arm:

* Carol was trying to retrieve our cat's litter box during the eviction, when a Greene County deputy grabbed her from behind, slammed her butt-first to the ground, and yanked on both of her arms (in an upward and backward motion, while she still was seated), breaking her left arm so badly that it required trauma surgery for repair.

* Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott was standing about five feet away when Carol was brutalized, and in classic cover-your-ass mode, he immediately pointed at her and said, "She assaulted a police officer."

* Carol was handcuffed (behind her back, while her arm was broken), tossed in the back seat of a squad car, and taken to jail, where a deputy claimed she would be hit with a felony charge and likely $100,000 bond. When Carol complained of pain in her left arm, she was taken to a nearby hospital emergency room, where X-rays revealed multiple breaks. She was released without charges and taken to Cox Medical Center, where she eventually underwent more than seven hours of surgery, which involved numerous possible complications.

* On the last day before the one-year statute of limitations ran out, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson filed misdemeanor "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol -- the victim of a cop assault -- and she was arrested a second time. This is a classic "cover charge," which rogue cops are known to bring against victims who have strong civil cases against them.

* The Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information in the case show there is not the slightest piece of admissible evidence to support Carol's arrest, much less a prosecution. A trespass charge against her has been dismissed, but the "assault" charge remains -- even though it must be dismissed, by law, on multiple grounds. Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto has not gotten around to doing that yet, and Public Defender Patty Poe apparently is not going to push for it.

X-ray of hardware required to repair
Carol Shuler's broken arm
* In their incident reports, four Greene County deputies hint that Carol broke her arm by thrashing about in the back seat of a patrol car. Never mind that Carol was restrained via seat belts and harnesses while in the car. And never mind that Carol had a comminuted fracture, which is a break into three or more pieces. Research indicates such breaks almost always come from trauma, such as in a car wreck, and almost certainly could not be caused from flailing about in the back seat of a squad car.

Alex Wubbels is doing a public service by speaking out on the Today Show, and hopefully, she and attorney Karra Porter will make other national appearances. They each made important points in the interview yesterday:

Wubbels told TODAY much of what she told Salt Lake City’s KUTV on Friday. She did not say what should happen to Payne and instead focused on how police expect nurse’s to do what they say.

The video “resonates with people all over” she said.

Wubbels’ attorney, Karra Porter, appeared with her Monday on TODAY. While a lawsuit is not out of the question, Porter said, her client most wants changes so no other nurses are arrested.

“Most people that this happens to don’t have this kind of evidence,” Porter said.

Porter obtained the police video through a public-records request. The video has turned what would have been a local or regional story into national news. In Carol's case, we don't know if video or audio exists of cops breaking her arm. We have sought such material during discovery in her criminal case, but prosecutors are stonewalling on turning over information.

There you have it, more evidence that police can't be trusted to police themselves. They must be hit in the teeth with a federal lawsuit, and hopefully Alex Wubbels' case will turn in that direction shortly. Carol's case definitely is headed in that direction.

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