Police Officer Bumps into Pregnant Woman's Car, Resulting in a Deadly Flip
An Arkansas state trooper is facing a lawsuit after bumping into a pregnant woman's car during a police chase, causing the vehicle to flip.
A police chase in Little Rock, Arkansas, ended with a rollover that almost claimed the life of a pregnant woman. The victim, Janice Nicole Harper, has dragged the officer involved and the Arkansas State Police to court to seek justice for injuries sustained.
According to reports, the woman ended up injured after the officer, trooper Rodney Dunn, bumped into her SUV after she failed to pull over for a traffic stop. The incident took place on July 9, 2020.
Harper alleged that the collision, which caused her car to flip, was a deliberate act intended to punish her for not complying immediately with his request to pull over. The dashboard camera installed in trooper Dunn's vehicle captured the incident.
An extracted video showed the officer performing a pursuit intervention technique, commonly termed pit maneuver, about two minutes after initiating his overhead lights. The move resulted in the two-vehicle collision.
Harper filed a lawsuit in May against Rodney Dunn, his supervisors, and the Arkansas State Police through her attorney Andrew Norwood. The suit, filed in Pulaski County, alleges negligence and excessive use of force.
Norwood believes such force was uncalled for, as his client slowed down right after Dunn initiated the stop and was looking for a place to park, with her blinker activated.
A police cruiser crashed into the overturned car almost immediately, causing more damages.
The suit alleged that no exit or shoulder was present on the Highway for Harper to safely exit. According to Norwood's filings, the officer "negligently executed" the pit maneuver two minutes and seven seconds after initiating the stop, thereby causing the flip.
Court documents obtained showed that the plaintiff suffered mental and emotional distress as a result of the crash, in addition to the severe injuries sustained. Additionally, she lost her job and incurred attorneys' costs, among other expenses.
Meanwhile, her pregnancy remained unharmed in the collision. She successfully birthed the child months later with no sign of residual effect from the accident.
While Arkansas officers refrained from commenting on the pending lawsuit, Col. Bill Bryant revealed in a statement that the use of forceful techniques like the pit maneuver has become rampant due to increasing cases of drivers who ignore traffic stops.
However, Holly Dickson of Arkansas' ACLU believes such deadly maneuvers were reminders of how officers escalated mere traffic violations into life-threatening situations, thereby endangering other motorists.
In May, a high-speed police chase in Florida saw a similar potentially life-threatening ending. It involved five teenagers fleeing in a vehicle as officers tailed after them at high speeds following their attempt to steal an SUV out of Fort Lauderdale.
Footage of the incident showed the fleeing vehicle becoming airborne and flipping over seconds after attempting a diversion at I-95 highway. A police cruiser crashed into the overturned car almost immediately, causing more damages.
The involved commuters suffered severe but non-life-threatening injuries and ended up hospitalized. They faced charges in connection to the crash, police evasion, and attempted theft, among others.
Drivers and commuters should endeavor to obey traffic stops and other regulations to prevent troopers from resorting to extreme measures.
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