The head of the Salt Lake Police Association has chosen to respond to the mishandling for the Utah nurse who refused to break the law for an officer by complaining that the public got to see what its officers did.
Their issue is not that the police mishandled the situation, their issue lies with the fact that people saw them breaking the law, threatening, roughing up, and arresting an innocent woman for upholding the law.
Union head Stephen Hartney sent a letter to the city’s mayor and police chief to complain video of the brief arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels has made “pariahs” of Det. Jeff Payne and his watch commander at the time of the incident, Lt. James Tracy, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.
Wubbels became famous after she released police body camera footage showing Payne very forcefully arresting her at University of Utah Hospital because she refused his demand that she draw blood from an unconscious victim of a high speed crash. The patient, William Gray, was actually an off duty officer, not a suspect, and not involved in the chase, and Payne didn’t have a warrant.
Hartney complained the police body camera footage should not have been publicly released until the investigation was completed.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reported:
The letter said the union was, at this point, not arguing or even discussing the merits of the allegations raised against the officers. “Rather we are solely concerned… with the ‘investigatory process’ which we believe has been corrupted.”
The letter claims the city has not followed an “agreed upon and carefully scripted process” for investigating the conduct of police officers. At the news conference, Hartney focused on if the city should have released the footage so soon under the state’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), considering the release could have interfered with the internal affairs investigation.
The release of the body cam footage and information from the disciplinary investigation “has created a public furor which makes reasoned determinations difficult, if not impossible,” the letter states.
The city, however, didn’t release the videos to the public. The city released the footage to Wubbels because of the law Hartney referenced. The city said it had no good reason to deny the video footage to Wubbels.
What might have been forgotten in all of this is Wubbels released the video because she believed she was exposing a widespread problem of police bullying nurses into drawing blood without consent or a warrant, reported Reason.com.
Since the release of the video, the hospital has implemented new policies to limit police access to parts of the hospital.
Public pressure and response is important to holding police officers accountable. They are public servants, and Hartney’s responses, like we’ve seen from other police union leaders, misuse the concept of due process to try to conceal information from the people to whom the police are supposed to answer.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)