A police officer is being sued for flipping a pregnant Arkansas woman's car because she didn't pull over fast enough. Nicole Harper, 38, who was 2 months pregnant at the time believed that her unborn child had died in the crash on U.S. Highway 167 in Jacksonville, Arkansas. Harper went to bed on July 9 and "cried herself to sleep," her lawyer Andrew Norwood told NBC News. Harper was reportedly traveling 84 mph in a 70 mph zone which caused trooper Rodney Dunn to flash his lights and try to pull Harper over. Harper then had turned on her hazards, slowed down, and began searching for a safe place to park. But the shoulders are narrow on the stretch of southbound U.S. 167 so she wanted to pull over safely at an exit.
"It's essentially a bowling alley with bumpers on both sides," Norwood said. "There's nowhere to go; you're boxed in by concrete barriers on both sides." A little over two minutes of pursuit later, Dunn drew alongside Harper and executed a PIT maneuver or Precision Immobilization Technique where the trooper tapped the back of Harper's car. The move immediately sent Harper's SUV into the median and flipped it on its roof. The trooper quickly did a 180-degree turnaround and drove back to find the red SUV on its top. The trooper's action "constituted a reckless attempt to engage in conduct that created substantial risk of physical injury," Harper's civil complaint said.
Trooper Dunn reportedly responded "well this is where you ended up," and apparently accused Harper of fleeing rather than complying. "Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle displaying the signal to stop, the driver must pull over and stop. Should a driver make the decision to ignore the law and flee from police, state troopers are trained to consider their options," State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant said, according to Fox 16. "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."
According to dashcam footage, the trooper can be seen approaching Harper's flipped car. While he did help her out of the wreckage, he asked, "Why didn't you stop?" "Because I didn't feel like it was safe," she answered "Well this is where you ended up," the trooper responded. "Ma'am you got to pull over." As for Harper's pregnancy, a doctor told the two-months-pregnant Harper that a fetal heartbeat could not be detected and she believed the baby had died, Norwood said. But fortunately the next morning a check-up did pick up the heartbeat, and Harper's daughter was born in February. But Harper is still shaken by the events of that night. “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 okay?” she questioned.
Lawmakers weighed in on the matter with Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Ozark) saying, “I think it will probably be appropriate that we have a committee hearing to look at this. Find out how we’re using, what type of training, what type of limitations we have, and what are the justifications for the increase in usage of it The facts you reported, it seems like it was highly inappropriate to utilize the PIT maneuver there,” he said. “At this point I don’t know if State Police is not doing everything correct,” he said. “At the same time we don’t want to kill them for running a red light or for fleeing for that matter if we can avoid doing that.” In 2020 it was discovered that at least three people were killed during PITs where one person was a passenger.