Recently an incident about a nurse at the University of Utah Hospital being arrested after refusing to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious individual has become public and the public is expressing outrage over the incident.
For those that haven’t seen the video, a nurse at the University of Utah Hospital was being told to draw blood on an unconscious individual involved in a fatal crash. The nurse reads to the officer requirements for a blood draw of an unconscious individual. The requirements in this situation were not met. The officer, however continues to threaten the nurse that if she doesn’t draw the blood he is going to arrest her.
All of this was documented on one of the other officers’ body cam.
I am guessing that the officer was not educated on the change of law concerning forcible blood draws for a DUI. Missouri v McNeely 2013.
Up to that point a law enforcement officer could force a person to provide a sample of his blood if he had reasonable cause to believe that the person had been operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The officer did not need to obtain a search warrant if the individual refused or was unable to consent as in this case.
It even becomes more outrageous since the officer’s supervisor, a Lieutenant, a ranking officer is telling the officer to pursue the blood draw without a warrant.
The fact that I want to point out is that if there hadn’t been an officer in the area with his body cam operating, this act wouldn’t be circulating the social community in the manner that it is. In fact, the actual event was over a month ago. It wasn’t until the nurse and her attorney released the video to the public that it went viral.
The point is, it took the video of this outrageous act by a veteran law enforcement officer and the public’s voice of it before the agency took action against the officer.
I have witnessed this type of activity too many times while working defense investigations. And usually when law enforcement is asked for the documentation by their issued equipment meaning recorders and or video cameras, I am told that the device was not used or was inoperative at the time of the incident.
This is an item of issued equipment just like their firearm. It should be cared for and maintained just as they do their firearm.
Just last year I was asked to assist with a criminal case of an assault with a deadly weapon at a bar in Pocatello, Idaho.
Five Pocatello Police Officers arrived on the scene. All five had their Police issued recorders on their person. Not one of the officers activated their recorder to document what really occurred. Not one of them even bothered to record the witness statements they were taking.
During a court hearing for this offence, the Defense Attorney asked the officers whey they hadn’t activated their recorders. Some of them stated that they usually never work so they didn’t bother.
Truth is they don’t want the public to hear what has really taken place. During my career as a Law Enforcement officer there was several times when working with uniform officers that I was present when an officer would turn off his recording device so it would not pick up conversations between officers.
Just recently I was again asked to assist with a criminal defense case of an assault with a deadly weapon.
This time it was the Idaho State Police. The Idaho State Police cruisers are designed, that when the emergency lights are activated the dash video starts. This also records audio.
After contact with the alleged suspect, the Idaho State Police Troopers were inside a convenience store the individual had stopped at.
The audio recording of one of the police cruisers at the scene documented the unprofessional remarks the officers were making of the subject.
Over the past years there has been increased police abuse being observed and covered by social media.
This is not something that is happening more today, it is something that is being document more due video surveillance and phone cameras.
Therefore, we as the public should demand that all law enforcement officer be equipped with recording devices and that these devices be used during the course of their duties.
I agree that there are sometimes that a recording device should not be used and or shared, but it has been my experience that law enforcement rarely uses these devices.
The recordings are treated just like other law enforcement documents and evidence, not all of it is available to the public. Just because an officer has a body camera doesn’t mean it becomes public record. You should need to show the court a reason or the purpose for obtaining this recording.
The use of body cameras has and will reduce court trials. When used here is no question as what occurred.