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United States

US officer manhandles nurse for not drawing blood from patient

The violent incident has shocked the nation after video emerged online of a nurse being arrested by force. The nurse had said she was merely following normal hospital protocol, and the officer was put on leave.

Watch video 00:44

'Stop, I've done nothing wrong'

The Salt Lake City Police Department in the US state of Utah said it supported an independent criminal investigation of an incident in which a police officer arrested a nurse for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient, according to a statement circulated on Saturday.

"This is an ever evolving situation, and we will do what is necessary to fully investigate the issue, uphold the integrity of the Salt Lake City Police Department and strengthen the trust with our community," said Chief Mike Brown.

Video emerged earlier this week of the officer, identified by local media as Detective Jeff Payne, manhandling and detaining nurse Alex Wubbels.

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"Stop, stop - I've done nothing wrong … This is crazy, please sir, you're hurting me," Wubbels said as Payne put handcuffs on her.

In the video, Wubbels explained that she couldn't draw blood from her patient unless he was under arrest, consented to the blood-draw or the officer had a warrant. Wubbels said those three requirements for a blood-draw had been agreed upon by the hospital and the Salt Lake City Police Department prior to the altercation.

'Unacceptable'

The incident has prompted outrage across the nation after footage from Payne's body cam and a mobile phone were uploaded to video hosting websites, with rights activists calling it an "unethical arrest."

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"We cannot allow an incident like this divide our community or taint the good work of SLCPD," said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. "When I learned of this unacceptable incident last night, I was outraged and will ensure it is fully and independently investigated so our community can heal."

The University of Utah, where Wubbels' hospital is located, said they supported the nurse and "her decision to focus first and foremost on the care and well-being of her patient." Police said Payne and another officer involved in the incident have been put on leave.

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ls/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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