We all know why this happened: Police rage

The story of the police officer who roughly handcuffed and arrested a nurse at the University of Utah hospital because she politely – and rightly – refused to take blood from an accident victim because the officer lacked proper authority has received widespread attention in the media. PZ Myers has also written about it.

Look at how at the 6:45 mark, the officer suddenly explodes when the nurse, following the instructions of her supervisor, says she cannot comply. What is clear from the video is that this is another example of what we can label police rage. This is when a police officer reacts angrily and irrationally to anyone who has the temerity to not immediately comply with their demands, however unreasonable or even unlawful. The police seem to expect complete docility and obsequiousness while people are following orders.

Later in the video at the 11:00 mark, we see how another police officer at the scene makes up the law to justify their actions, even though the law is completely on the nurse’s side. What is impressive is how calmly the nurse explains her position in the face of police bullying.

Police rage is widespread and endemic in the US where it is especially visible in their dealings with people of color. The police officer in the above video and another unspecified officer (maybe the other officer who made up the law to justify their action or a supervisor) have been placed on leave and both the city mayor and the police chief have apologized to the nurse. I hope the nurse sues the police department for the way she was treated.

The hospital has also instituted a new policy that bars officers from coming to the hospital in person to get blood samples. Maybe next time the police will send in a heavily armored SWAT team with armored personnel carriers to blast their way in and forcibly take blood. No pesky hospital rules are going to stop them when their rage is in full flower.


  1. DonDueed says

    One detail that I haven’t seen mentioned in any of the reports of this incident (including that in the Boston Globe): did the cops go on to take the blood sample after they arrested the nurse? Or did they just content themselves with the arrest?
    If the latter, even more kudos to Nurse Wubbels — she took the heat to protect her patient.
    If they did get the blood sample it will obviously be of no use whatsoever since it was obtained illegally. I would think, too, that the truck driver (as well as the nurse) would have cause to sue the cops for violation of his rights.

  2. says

    Authoritarians freak the fuck out when people don’t submit to their authority. After all, why bother getting authority if people aren’t going to submit to it?
    That was assault under color of law, and the other cops who witnessed the scene are equally guilty. I don’t hear any, “hey Fred maybe you better chill out and let’s think this over…”

    Cops expect compliance and they often become dangerous when people do not immediately submit to their demands. It particularly tends to be racialized because US cops appear to have a big racism problem, but overall, their authoritarian tendencies are what need to be countered.

  3. se habla espol says

    I don’t recall the source: it may have been a local (SLC) tv report, it may have been The Grauniad or the SL Tribune, or somewhere else, but it was reported that the nurse was held in an overheated SLCPD cruiser for about 20 minutes, and released when the SLCPD discovered that a blood sample had been taken for normal ER/burn unit lab workup.

    The KUTV news, last night, reported that The SL County DA had gotten into the act first, calling the mayor and the chief of SLCPD. They also reported that two SLCPD officers, the visible bad guy and an unidentified other, had been suspended pending an investigation by a different PD in the area.

  4. G. Priddy says

    That’s some serious Mansplaining, there. And from a completely misinformed police officer. Why, it’s almost like he knew he was spewing BS, but did it anyway, because he’d rather do that than admit his colleague was wrong for arresting her. His explanation is even contradictory: “If we had known you had already drawn blood, we would have gotten a warrant.” So a warrant is required to access blood already drawn, but we can waltz in here and demand to draw blood without a warrant? This is how they treat fellow professionals? Imagine the treatment people get when they’re suspected of having committed a crime.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *