Pregnant woman sues Arkansas police after PIT maneuver turned her car over, says she wasn’t speeding

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The woman who sued the Arkansas state police after a trooper flipped her car during a chase said she was not speeding at the time of the crash and the charges against her are false.

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

She slowed down to 60 miles per hour at the time of the July 9 impact on U.S. Highway 167 in Jacksonville, Arkansas, she said.

Senior Comp. Rodney Dunn ‘negligently’ performed the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT), which caused her car to race across lanes before flipping over, the suit says.

She was charged with speeding and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Nicole Harper (right) told CNN host Chris Cuomo that the simple reason she didn't pull to the nearest shoulder was because there wasn't enough room

Nicole Harper (right) told CNN host Chris Cuomo that the simple reason she didn’t pull to the nearest shoulder was because there wasn’t enough room

A woman sues an Arkansas police officer after he overturned her car during a car chase while pregnant

A woman sues an Arkansas police officer after he overturned her car during a car chase while pregnant

“I don’t understand how they’re accusing me of running when I didn’t run, that makes no sense,” she told CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time on Thursday.

She said her baby, who is now four months old, is doing “perfectly” despite the accident.

Harper explained that she didn’t pull to the nearest shoulder because there wasn’t enough room. “Honestly, the shoulder didn’t have enough room for my car alone, but my thoughts were also that the officer didn’t have to be there next to my car, there was literally not enough room,” she said.

Harper’s lawsuit says Dunn “was unable to safely stop her vehicle on the right or left shoulder due to concrete barriers and a diminished shoulder on both sides of the road… [her] no room to safely park her car.’

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

Dunn continued to track Harper’s vehicle for about two minutes before hitting the left rear bumper, slamming the car into a concrete barrier.

Harper told Cuomo before she was hit by the officer that she saw a sign for a nearby exit where she planned to stop.

“If you watch some more of the video before he hit me, you’ll see a sign that says the exit is a mile away,” she told Cuomo. “Just after he hit me, the road kind of turns and opens up and the shoulder gets bigger, there’s more space and it would have been so much safer.”

Cuomo asked if maybe Harper wasn’t stopping because she thought the police would hurt her, which never occurred to her.

“I never thought the police would harm me,” she said. “I didn’t feel there was enough room on the side of the road for my car and the officer to stand next to it.”

The Arkansas Drivers License Manual instructs drivers to “pull to the nearest/safest place off the roadway (not stopping on bridges or overpasses).

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

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

The PIT Maneuver: How the Police Stop Fleeing Cars with a Trick Inspired by Counter-Terror Tactics

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

The pursuing police vehicle pulls alongside so that the front bumper is just in front of the rear bumper of the fleeing car.

The officer then makes careful contact with the other vehicle before turning sharply towards it.

This causes the fleeing vehicle to lose traction and turn sideways – ideally to a soft stop.

But the maneuver is highly controversial, as it causes the fleeing vehicle to lose control of the steering wheel and could even tip over – especially at high speeds.

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

The tactic was allegedly developed by the German federal police to take out terrorist cars that threatened convoys, and was introduced in the US in the 1970s by the private training company BSR, according to the report. intercept.

Dashcam footage of the incident, obtained by Harper’s legal team, shows the patrol car chasing Harper’s vehicle before hitting the bumper, causing it to swing out of view.

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

The footage shows Dunn berating Harper as he tries to help her out of the vehicle.

Dunn asked her why she didn’t stop, to which Harper replies, “I thought it would be safer to wait for the exit.”

“No ma’am, you must stop if the police stop you,” he replied, trying to help Harper out of the vehicle.

When asked if she was alone in the car, she says, “I’m pregnant!”

Cuomo asked Harper about Dunn’s questioning after the accident.

“I mean, I thought he had me,” she said. “told me I was doing something wrong and in my mind I was doing exactly what I had to do and I was trying to keep us both safe.”

Despite speeding, she said that because she was only driving between 60 and 65 mph, there’s no chance the officer could have believed she was speeding to get away from him.

“My risks were up, I had clearly slowed down,” she said.

An investigation by NBC News in May revealed an increased use of PIT maneuvers by the Arkansas state police.

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

The Arkansas State Police and other troops use the maneuver to intentionally hit cars during chases, causing them to spin away.

“There is a fundamental state law that none of us should ever forget. All drivers are required by Arkansas law to drive safely off the roadway and stop when a police officer activates the patrol vehicle’s emergency lights and siren. The language of the law is crystal clear,” Colonel Bill Bryant, director of the state police, said in a statement. The independent.

“If a driver makes the decision to ignore the law and flee from the police, state robbers are trained to consider their options.

“Based on the set of circumstances, a state trooper can use spike strips to deflate the chased vehicle’s tires, perform a boxing technique to stem the chase causing the driver to come to a stop, perform a PIT maneuver or end the chase.” .

“Most Arkansas state police chases end without the use of a PIT maneuver.”

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