A video showing an Arkansas State Police trooper using a "PIT maneuver" to stop a pregnant woman's car on the interstate, causing it to overturn, is being widely circulated on social media.
In an incident that took place in July 2020, Nicole Harper, who was a little over two months pregnant at the time, was on her way home when Senior Cpl. Rodney Dunn caught her speeding on the highway outside Jacksonville, Arkansas. Harper was clocked going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone.
Harper Claims She Was Trying to Find a Safe Place to Pull Over
Dunn claims that once he flashed his lights in an attempt to get Harper to pull over, she fled. However, Harper says she "was trying to find a safe place to stop on a section of interstate that has a reduced shoulder." The dashcam footage recorded from Dunn's patrol car shows Harper trying by pulling into the right lane, slowing down and turning on her hazard lights.
Dunn then performs a PIT maneuvre or Precision Immobilization Technique - a pursuit tactic that involves deliberately hitting and causing the fleeing vehicle to lose control – and causes Harper's vehicle to flip over.
'You Pull Over When Law Enforcement Stops You'
"Why didn't you stop?" Dunn can be heard asking Harper in the video. "Because I didn't feel it was safe," she replies.
"Well, this is where you ended up," Dunn retorts.
"I thought it would be safe to wait until the exit," Harper says, to which Dunn responds, "No, ma'am, you pull over when law enforcement stops you." Watch the video below:
Harper vs. Arkansas State Police
Harper is now suing the Arkansas State Police and Dunn who she says used excessive force and "negligently performed" the PIT maneuver that caused her vehicle to flip. Harper is suing for damages caused by the officer's maneuver. As previously mentioned, Harper was pregnant at the time and says she not only suffered physical injuries but emotional distress and trauma. "In my head I was going to lose the baby," said Harper.
According to the state's "Driver License Study Guide," under "What to do When You Are Stopped," the first instruction given states, "use emergency flashers to indicate to the officer that you are seeking a safe place to stop."
"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," Harper explained.
"What was done to Ms. Harper was deadly force," said her lawyer Andrew Norwood at Denton & Zachary. "There was a less dangerous and more safe avenue that could have been taken before flipping her vehicle and making it bounce off a concrete barrier going 60 miles an hour," Norwood said.