SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah police officer who was caught on video roughly handcuffing a nurse because she refused to allow a blood draw was fired Tuesday in a case that became a flashpoint in the ongoing national conversation about police use of force.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown made the decision after an internal investigation found evidence Detective Jeff Payne violated department policies when he arrested nurse Alex Wubbels and dragged her out of the hospital as she screamed on July 26, said Sgt. Brandon Shearer, a spokesman for the department.
Attorney Greg Skordas has said Payne served the department well for nearly three decades and questioned whether his behavior warranted termination. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
Payne’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, was also demoted to officer. His lawyer, Ed Brass, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The case received widespread attention after the body-camera video was released by Wubbels and her lawyer in late August. Her lawyer didn’t have immediate comment on the decision to fire Payne.
It showed her explaining that hospital policy required a warrant or formal consent to draw blood from the patient who had been injured in a car crash.
The patient wasn’t suspected of wrongdoing. He was an off-duty reserve Idaho police officer driving a semitrailer when he was hit by a man fleeing police in a pickup truck.
Payne nevertheless insisted, saying the evidence would protect the man. Payne told Wubbels his supervisor said he should arrest her if she didn’t allow the blood draw. Tracy arrived on scene after the arrest and forcefully told a handcuffed Wubbels that she should have allowed the blood draw. She was later released without charge.
Both officers came under investigation and were placed on paid administrative leave after the video became public. Salt Lake City police also apologized and changed their policies in line with Wubbels’ position.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, opened a criminal investigation into the arrest and asked the FBI to probe for possible civil rights violations.
Payne was also fired from a part-time job as a paramedic after he was caught on camera saying he’d take transient patients to the University of Utah hospital where Wubbels worked and take the “good patients” elsewhere as retribution.
Payne had previously been disciplined in 2013 after internal-affairs investigators confirmed that he sexually harassed a female co-worker in a “persistent and severe” way.
His tenure has also brought commendations for solving burglary cases as recently as 2011 and a being shot in the shoulder during a traffic stop in 1998.
Tracy, meanwhile, has risen to through the ranks since he was hired in 1995, earning commendations for drug and burglary investigations. He was reprimanded in 1997 for moving two handcuffed people from one location to another a few miles away and releasing them without documenting the incident.
San Bernardino, CA - Today Governor Brown signed AB 1008 into law, The California Fair Chance Act that ends employment discrimination during the hiring process for job applicants with a conviction history. This makes California the tenth state to "ban the box" to private employers. The bill was co-sponsored by Time for Change Foundation, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, All of Us or None, and the National Employment Law Project.
For years Melissa tried to apply for jobs to support herself and family of five and every time she reached the dreaded question on the application: have you ever been convicted of a crime, her stomach turned into knots. She wasn't proud of her past, but she already served the time for her mistakes and was trying to forge a new life by getting a job and becoming a contributing member of society. Yet, society still marked her with a scarlet letter and would pass her over before her skills and qualifications were ever considered.
Since she wasn't able to obtain work, Melissa was forced to seek shelter and support at Time for Change Foundation where she met other women who also faced the same discrimination. It was then that she decided she would use her voice and speak out against the injustices she faced during the hiring process. Like Melissa, there are far too many individuals and families who are impacted by background checks and inquiries into their conviction records. According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), there are an estimated 70 million U.S. adults with arrests or convictions.
"At TFCF, we witness firsthand the barriers women face by not having access to employment opportunities and when children are involved they often suffer the most consequences," expressed Vanessa Perez, Associate Director for Time for Change Foundation. "Thank you, Governor Brown, for giving millions of Californians a fair chance at employment."
The Fair-chance reform allows job searchers like Melissa to have a fighting chance at securing employment without their past being used as weapons against them. Not only does AB 1008 remove job barriers but it helps the economy as well. With more people in the workforce there will be an increase in tax contributions, boosts in sales tax, and the opportunity to save money by keeping people of out the criminal justice system reported NELP. With one less barrier in her path, Melissa is closer to providing for her family and reaching self-sufficiency.
AB 1008 delays background screenings until an official offer has been made and allows the applicant to request a copy of their records in the event they would like to provide additional information regarding their history.
AB 1008 was authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) as well as Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-San Bernardino), and Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena).
"People are dying." That's what whistleblower Joe Rannazzisi told 60 Minutes over and over again. "People are dying."
This week, the broadcast airs Bill Whitaker's interview with Rannazzisi, a former high-ranking DEA agent who saw the opioid epidemic killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, tried to stop it, and ran into a brick wall -- in the form of Congress.
"Joe Rannazzisi is not gonna give this fight up...He's going to pursue this until he gets some satisfaction."
Whitaker talks about his report "The Whistleblower," which was a joint investigation with The Washington Post, with 60 Minutes Overtime and explains why Rannazzisi decided to talk publicly.
"Joe Rannazzisi is not gonna give this fight up," says Whitaker. "He's like a dog with a bone. He's going to pursue this until he gets some satisfaction."
In the video player above, watch the full Overtime interview (produced by Will Croxton, Lisa Orlando, and Ann Silvio) or read the transcript below:
CREW: Speeding, We're good, Let's go...
BILL WHITAKER: Okay. Well, Joe, if you would first of all please state your name, so we have it at the top of your interview?
JOE RANNAZZISI: Okay. My name is Joseph Rannazzisi—
BILL WHITAKER: My story on 60 Minutes this week is about a former DEA agent who saw the opioid epidemic growing, and tried to stop it, and ran into a brick wall in the form of Congress.
JOE RANNAZZISI TO CONGRESS: 16,651 people in 2010 died of opiate overdose, ok? Opiate-associated overdose. This is not a game.
BILL WHITAKER: Are you the most high-level whistleblower to come out of the DEA?
JOE RANNAZZISI: As far as this? Yes. As far as pharmaceutical opioid abuse and the way we've handled it? Yeah, I'm pretty much the highest-level person that's come out.
60 MINUTES OVERTIME: Joe Rannazzisi is in your story called one of the most important whistleblowers ever to be on 60 Minutes. What's your sense of what drives him?
BILL WHITAKER: He is a no-nonsense principled man. He saw this crisis and wanted to stop it. What he zeroed in on was the distribution of the pills. So he started to put pressure on the distributors. And the distributors pushed back.
JOE RANNAZZISI: This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors' offices, that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs.
BILL WHITAKER: This story was like a continuation of the two previous stories we did on the opioid crisis. That one was personal.
[Excerpt from "The Heroin Epidemic":
ANGIE PELFREY: We call this the "death wall."
BILL WHITAKER: The death wall?
ANGIE PELFREY: Yes.
BILL WHITAKER: Why is that?
ANGIE PELFREY: Majority of the people on this wall have died of drug overdose.
BILL WHITAKER: I thought of those people we met and the people who died-- all the time.
MAN: There's 23 in there on the wall from my hometown.
BILL WHITAKER: Is it a small town?
BILL WHITAKER: It seems that some investigators with the DEA were aware that these pills were getting out of the pharmacies and into the streets, and they tried to ring the alarm bells. But not only did no one pay attention to them, it seems that members of Congress took steps to try to limit the DEA's abilities to stop this. And the result was a bill in Congress that actually ended up taking away the most potent tool that the DEA had to go after the distribution of so many drugs.
JOE RANNAZZISI: This bill is going to protect defendants that we have under investigation, that we are investigating. And it restricts or prevents us from filing immediate suspension orders to stop-- to stop the hemorrhaging of drugs downstream.
CONGRESSMAN TOM MARINO: It is my understanding that Joe Rannazzisi, a senior DEA official, has publicly accused we sponsors of the bill of --quote supporting criminals --unquote. This offends me immensely.
BILL WHITAKER: You know you have a reputation. And even people who support you tell us that you can be a bit of a hothead. True?
JOE RANNAZZISI: Yeah, I do get angry. I get angry when people don't do their jobs. I get angry when people don't do their jobs well.
BILL WHITAKER: And this crisis that he saw happening in front of his eyes enraged him.
JOE RANNAZZISI: I-- I-- I'm guilty. I'm guilty of being passionate. I'm builty of b-- guilty of being angry. But I think anybody else in that situation would've done the exact same thing.
BILL WHITAKER: "People are dying." He would say that to us over and over and over again. "People are dying." So he was trying to figure out what he could do about it. And every time he ran into a roadblock, he got angrier and more forceful. And it depends on who ya talk to what his reputation is. If you talk to his investigators, the people who worked in the field for him, they love him. You talk to some people in Washington-- at the DEA-- his higher-ups at the DEA or at the Justice Department, certainly in Congress, they think he was too aggressive, to the point of being boorish.
JOE RANNAZZISI: What I needed was support. And it infuriated me that I was over there, trying to explain what my motives were or why I was going after these corporations. And when I went back to the office, and I sat down with my staff, I basically said, "You know, I just got questioned on why we're doing-- why we're doing what we're doing. This is-- now this is war. We're going after these people, and we're not gonna stop.
BILL WHITAKER: He's not the most diplomatic person you've ever come across.
60 MINUTES OVERTIME: No, but he makes a good whistleblower.
BILL WHITAKER: He makes a great whistleblower, and he's got a reason to be upset.
JOE RANNAZZISI: It just hurts when somebody says, "Well, DEA should be doing more." DEA was doing everything it could. DEA ran into a wall.
60 MINUTES OVERTIME: Do you think this investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post will make waves?
BILL WHITAKER: I sure hope so. This is a terrible crisis. What I would hope would happen from this story is that Americans get angry.
60 MINUTES OVERTIME: It doesn't look like Joe Rannazzisi's gonna let this go.
BILL WHITAKER: Joe Rannazzisi is not gonna give this fight up. He's like a dog with a bone. He's going to pursue this until he gets some satisfaction.
CONGRESSMAN TOM MARINO: You know before coming to Congress, I was a prosecutor and an United States Attorney.
BILL WHITAKER: Congressman Marino has been nominated to be the next drug czar. What was your reaction when you heard that?
JOE RANNAZZISI: Total disbelief. Total disbelief. He's just not qualified to do that job. Besides the fact that he pushed through a bill that's curtailing the ability of DEA to do their job, I don't understand how you could look at a congressman who's done all of this and then decide he would be a great drug czar-- to basically set policy for the United States; drug policy for the United States.
BILL WHITAKER: We will soon have a hearing with Congressman Marino. I would think that this would be an issue that will be brought up in his hearings.
JOE RANNAZZISI: The bill was bad. Him being the drug czar is a lot worse.
Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:1-3
"The worst mass shooting in modern American history."
We’ve heard these words before. We’ve heard them far too often only to have the next mass shooting supersede the former. During the night, people attending an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas unexpectedly found themselves assaulted by gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Early reports indicate this violence is the work of a lone, 64-year-old, white gunman equipped with multiple assault weapons. It is too early to know whether we will ever have knowledge of his provocation for this deadly act. It is too early to know what life experiences he may have had, or what propaganda he may have absorbed, that might have moved him from hateful thought to hateful action.
But what we do already know, even if we refuse to admit it, is that this lone gunman was able to execute at least 59 people, and wound over 500 more, because our nation’s absolute refusal to enact responsible gun legislation provides easy access to high-powered assault weapons used to kill human beings.
According to data gathered by the CDC, on average there are 12,000 gun homicides a year in the United States, and for every one person killed with a gun, two more are injured. What we know is that of the guns sold in the U.S. one in five are sold without background checks.
What we also know is that soon the predictable rhetoric exhorting the false notion that guns do not kill people will begin again, and gun lobbyists will line up to offer condolences for lives lost without offering proposals of any comprehensive gun reform to lessen the probability of this type of massacre ever happening again. What we know is we will spend our time analyzing the mental health of the shooter while excusing the moral decay of this nation.
In Psalm 73, the psalmist cries out for relief from oppressors while simultaneously acknowledging the temptation to stray from those things we know to be morally just. In this Psalm we are reminded of the necessity to heed the teaching and the love of the Lord, lest we become adorned with pride and clothed in violence.
My heart weeps for those who are waking this morning to notifications of the deaths and injuries of loved ones needlessly gunned down last night. My heart weeps for a nation that will once again gather to mourn the dead without committing to the deeper work of sensible gun reform. May the groaning pains of this nation lift us up from our praying knees to call on our policymakers to demand legislative changes to gun laws in this country. May we stop wringing our hands in helpless disbelief and satiating our hearts with false narratives of lone gunmen. Because until we do all we can to prevent such mass shootings, no gunman acts alone. From Sandy Hook to Texas to Charleston to Virginia Tech to Pulse to Las Vegas…Lord, hear our cries and compel us to act.
Visit our website for eight actions that you can begin today.