I don’t know if there’s anything to say about this that isn’t evident from the video itself. I’ll quote Patrick “Patterico” Frey, a longtime prosecutor in L.A.: “I often support the police but were I on a jury in this case I would vote to bankrupt the cop.”
It happened in Arkansas nearly a year ago. The driver, Nicole Harper, was allegedly doing in excess of 80 mph on the freeway. Trooper Rodney Dunn pursued her and told her to pull over, at which point Harper turned on her hazard lights. That was a signal — one which Dunn should have understood:
According to an Arkansas state driver’s license guide, when being stopped by law enforcement a driver should “activate your turn signal or emergency flashers to indicate to the officer that you are seeking a safe place to stop.”
A new lawsuit from Harper claims “there were no exits or shoulder for [Harper] to safely exit the highway.”
That’s not an excuse manufactured by Harper after the fact to justify her decision to continue driving on. You’ll hear her tell Dunn in the video, minutes after the accident, that she was planning to pull over at an exit, where it would be safer.
Dunn couldn’t wait. You’re about to see him execute a “PIT maneuver” (pursuit intervention technique or precision immobilization technique), which police typically use on fleeing suspects who have no intention of stopping. The cop drives up alongside the vehicle he’s chasing, aligns the front of his car with the back of the suspect’s car, and then speeds up and steers into it. That causes the suspect’s car to spin out; in this case, Harper spun right into the wall and then flipped.
She and her baby both survived, thank God. She’s suing now, not just Dunn but the Arkansas State Police for teaching him the PIT maneuver. The force is unmoved:
The state police did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. Arkansas State Police director told Little Rock station KARK-TV in a statement that there has been a 52% increase in drivers ignoring police traffic stops in the last five years.
“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 statement said, according to KARK-TV.
I can see why a cop would use a PIT maneuver if he had reason to believe he’s chasing someone who’s up to no good and trying to escape. I can’t for the life of me understand using it on a driver whom he has no reason to believe has committed a crime and who turned her flashers on, signaling that she would comply. Harper also claims that she slowed down to 60 mph and moved to the right lane after Dunn began pursuing her, a curious thing for a “fleeing” suspect to do.
It’s hard to believe he thought she was trying to run. More likely is that he got impatient waiting for her to pull over and decided to force the issue, knowing full well that it would cause her to lose control of her car.
What’s the argument that this wasn’t reckless?