A woman from Little Rock is suing the police in an attempt to change the department’s policy after an officer used a maneuver to stop her vehicle and reportedly made it flip.
How did it all happen?
KLRT-TV reported on Thursday that the woman, Nicole Harper, recalled a terrible incident in 2020 in which she claims a law officer negligently executed a PIT maneuver during a traffic stop, making her car overturn on the interstate. This all took place when she was pregnant.
The woman said she was driving home and was on I-67 when Arkansas State Police Senior Cpl. Rodney Dunn signaled her speeding.
Harper says she intended to pull over at the officer’s request but was just trying to find a safe place to do that, since there was a very narrow shoulder on the part of the interstate.
“Dash camera video from Dunn's patrol car showed Harper pulled into the right lane, slowed down, and turned hazards on. Less than two minutes after turning on his blue lights, Dunn performed a PIT maneuver (precision immobilization technique), which caused Harper's car to crash into the concrete median and flip,’ the station reported.
Harper says she was scared she would lose the bay because of the terrible crash. The conversation that followed was recorded by the officer’s body mic.
“Why didn't you stop?” Dunn asked the woman, who replied, “Because I didn't feel it was safe.”
“Well, this is where you ended up,” Dunn answered.
“I thought it would be safe to wait until the exit,” the woman explained.
“You pull over when law enforcement stops you,” was the reply she got.
Harper was taken to the emergency room that evening where a doctor told her that a fetal heartbeat could not be detected and that the baby might not have survived the crash, according to an NBC News.
The next morning, however, the woman’s doctor did pick up the child's heartbeat. Her daughter was born in February.
What happens now?
Harper filed the suit in May, saying that the tactic used was “negligent and there was excessive use of force.”
“I feel like I had heard that's what you do, you slow down, you put your flashers on, and you drive to a safe place,” she said.
The station reported that, indeed, that is what the state police driver’s license study guide says a motorist must do when pulled over.
Under “What to do when you are stopped,” the number one rule is to use “emergency flashers to indicate to the officer that you are seeking a safe place to stop.”
“There was a less dangerous and safer avenue that could have been taken before flipping her vehicle and making it bounce off a concrete barrier going 60 miles an hour,” Harper’s lawyer, Andrew Norwood, said.
“Most Arkansas State Police pursuits end without a PIT maneuver being utilized. PIT has proven to be an effective tool to stop drivers who are placing others in harm's way. It has saved lives among those who choose to obey the law against those who choose to run from police.
In every case a state trooper has used a PIT maneuver, the fleeing driver could have chosen to end the pursuit by doing what all law-abiding citizens do every day when a police officer turns-on the blue lights.They pull over and stop,” Col. Bill Bryant, from the Arkansas State Troopers, stated.
“What if I had kids in the car? He wouldn't have known. Did that matter? What was going through his head? What made him think this was ok?” the woman affected by the Little Rock incident added.