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Utah nurse gets $500,000 settlement over arrest for refusing blood sample

(Reuters) - A Utah nurse who was unlawfully arrested for refusing to let police take a blood sample from an unconscious patient has received a $500,000 legal settlement from the city and her employer, her attorney said.

Nurse Alex Wubbels is shown during an incident at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., in this still photo taken from police body-worn camera video taken July 26, 2017 and provided September 1, 2017. Courtesy Salt Lake City Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

A police body-camera video showing the rough arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26 sparked outrage after it spread online and was broadcast in media reports.

It showed a Salt Lake City police detective handcuffing the nurse at University of Utah Hospital and shoving her into an unmarked squad car, after she refused to let him draw blood from the patient without a warrant.

Wubbels, after receiving the settlement, will not pursue any lawsuit in connection with the arrest, her attorney Karra Porter said at a Tuesday news conference. Porter could not be reached for further comment.

“This is something that I never expected to happen,” Wubbels, who was released soon after her arrest, said at the news conference.

Salt Lake City and the University of Utah are each paying half of the $500,000 settlement, Matthew Rojas, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City mayor, said on Wednesday.

“First and foremost, Salt Lake City has been focused on changing policies and procedures to make sure that this never happens again, and we are glad that we were able to come to a resolution with Nurse Wubbels,” Rojas said by phone.

Representatives for the University of Utah did not immediately return calls.

Salt Lake City police Detective Jeff Payne, who arrested the nurse, was fired from the force last month and Lieutenant James Tracey, who was watch commander at the time of the incident, was demoted to officer.

Both men are appealing those actions, Rojas said.

The unconscious patient, who was badly hurt in a crash with a vehicle driven by someone fleeing police, has since died.

A spokesman for Salt Lake City police declined to comment on the settlement.

Wubbels plans to share at least some of the money with charities, her attorney said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Osterman