Woman sues police after her car was flipped while she was pregnant

Pregnant woman sues Arkansas police after cop performs PIT maneuver and flips her car at 60MPH when she didn’t pull over within two minutes of him lighting her up

  • Nicole Harper, 38, was clocked for speeding in Jacksonville in July 2020
  • She slowed her speed and turned on blinkers but said she could not find a safe place to stop when Senior Cpl. Rodney Dunn attempted to pull her over
  • Dunn rammed Harper’s bumper in a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT)
  • Impact send Harper’s vehicle flying across the road before flipping over
  • Lawsuit alleges that Dunn ‘negligently performed’ the maneuver
  • Police said in a statement that officers are required to use their judgement if a driver refuses to pull over

A woman is suing Arkansas State Police after he flipped her car during a pursuit while she was pregnant.

Nicole Harper, 38, was clocked driving 84 mph in a 70 zone, according to the civil lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court last month.

She had slowed to 60 miles per hour at the time of the impact, which happened on US Highway 167 in Jacksonville, Arkansas on July 9, 2020.

She said Senior Cpl. Rodney Dunn ‘negligently performed’ the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT), which sent her car careening across lanes before flipping.

Dashcam footage of the shocking incident, obtained by Harper’s legal team, shows the patrol car pursuing Harper’s vehicle before it rams the bumper, causing it to swerve out of frame.

The police vehicle with the dashcam then makes a U-turn and approaches the Harper’s car, which is flipped over and smoking. The airbags have inflated and debris is littering the side of the highway.  

A woman is suing an Arkansas State Police officer after he flipped her car during a pursuit while she was pregnant

Nicole Harper was driving 60 miles per hour at the time of the incident, which happened on US Highway 167 in Jacksonville, Arkansas on July 9, 2020

The PIT maneuver: How police stop fleeing cars with trick inspired by anti-terror tactics

The Pursuit Intervention Technique, or PIT, is aimed at stopping fleeing vehicles.

The chasing police vehicle pulls alongside so it’s front bumper is just in front of the fleeing car’s back bumper. 

The officer then gently makes contact with the other vehicle, before turning sharply toward it. 

This causes the fleeing vehicle to lose traction and spin sideways – ideally to a gentle stop. 

But the maneuver is highly controversial, as it causes the fleeing vehicle to lose control, and can even cause it to flip – especially at high speeds.

Since 2016 at least 30 people have been killed and hundreds injured when police used the PIT maneuver to end pursuits, The Washington Post reports.

The tactic was reportedly developed by Germany’s federal police to take out terrorist cars that were threatening convoys, and was introduced to the US by private driver training firm BSR in the 1970s, according to the Intercept.  

The lawsuit states that Dunn was ‘unable to safely stop her vehicle on the right or left shoulder due to concrete barriers and a reduced shoulder being on both sides of the road… leaving [her] no room to safely pull over her car’.

After Dunn turned on his cruiser’s lights and siren, Harper slowed to 60 mph and turned on her emergency blinkers. 

Dunn continued following Harper’s vehicle for about two minutes before hitting its back left bumper, sending the car into a concrete barrier. 

In the footage, Dunn gets out of his vehicle and speaks to Harper, who is inside the car.

‘I thought it would be safer to wait until the exit,’ she tells him.

‘No ma’am, you should pull over when law enforcement stops you,’ he replied, trying to help Harper out of the vehicle.

‘We call that a PIT maneuver. When people flee from us… that’s what happens.’

Arkansas State Police and other forces use the maneuver to intentionally hit cars during chases, causing them to spin out. 

In the video, Dunn responded that she ‘wasn’t feeling’. She was charged with failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. 

Harper’s attorney, Andrew Norwood, told NBC News that she had gone to bed that night believing her unborn child had died in the crash. 

‘She cried herself to sleep,’ he said.

Norwood alleged that the PIT maneuver constituted ‘deadly force’ and said that the concrete barriers Harper said prevented her from stopping safely ended around 20 seconds further down the road.

He said the exit Harper mentioned in the footage was just one mile away. 

Speaking to Fox News on Wednesday, Norwood said his client ‘wants policy change.’ 

‘She thinks they should look at the policies around PIT maneuver and re-evaluate the use of them.

Harper said Senior Cpl. Rodney Dunn (pictured) ‘negligently performed’ the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT), which sent her car careening across lanes before flipping

After Dunn turned on his cruiser’s lights, Harper slowed to 60 mph and turned on her emergency blinkers. Dunn continued following Harper’s vehicle for about two minutes before hitting its back left bumper, sending the car into a concrete barrier. Pictured: Dunn (right)

‘What was done is ridiculous. … It’s extremely dangerous what was done.’ 

An investigation by the network in May revealed an increasing use of PIT maneuvers by Arkansas State Police. 

At least 30 people have died and hundreds more have been injured by PIT maneuvers since 2016, The Washington Post reported, adding that 18 of those deaths occurred after police tried to stop a driver for speeding or other minor traffic violations. 

Norwood told Fox that the incident had left Harper with ‘lasting anxiety’ and that she cried when seeing the video for the first time.

The attorney described Harper’s thinking:  ‘What do I need to do in the future? Do I just stop in the middle of the road? Do I just lock it up and slam on the brakes in the middle of the road no matter where I am, no matter what?

‘What if I’m on a bridge? Because the officer said in no uncertain terms, in the video, ‘It doesn’t matter where you are, you just stop.’

He added that Harper followed what she had been taught to do in driver’s education when being stopped by an officer.

Fox reported that the Arkansas Driver License Study Guide reads: ‘Pull over to the right side of the road – activate your turn signal or emergency flashers to indicate to the officer that you are seeking a safe place to stop’.

‘There’s a fundamental state law none of us should ever forget. All drivers are required under Arkansas law to safely pull-off the roadway and stop when a police officer activates the patrol vehicle emergency lights and siren. The language of the law is crystal clear,’ said State Police Director Colonel Bill Bryant in a statement reported by The Independent.

‘Should a driver make the decision to ignore the law and flee from police, state troopers are trained to consider their options.

‘Based on the totality of circumstances a state trooper could deploy spike strips to deflate the tires of the vehicle being pursued, execute a boxing technique to contain the pursuit slowing the driver to a stop, execute a PIT maneuver or terminate the pursuit.

‘Most Arkansas State Police pursuits end without a PIT maneuver being utilized.’

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