Police Officer Sued for Flipping Pregnant Woman's Car When She Tried to Pull Over Safely

June 09, 2021

By Kat Lincks

Photo: Karl 4

In Little Rock, Arkansas, a woman has filed a lawsuit against the state police after an officer negligently used a PIT maneuver, causing her car to flip on the interstate while she was pregnant. 

PIT stands for Precision Immobilization Technique and is a pursuit tactic where law enforcement forces a fleeing car to lose control and spin out. It has been used for the past 20 years by the Arkansas State Police to intentionally hit and stop cars during chases. According to FOX 16, several recent investigations have revealed how officers are using PIT maneuvers twice as often in recent years, sometimes even leading to deadly wrecks. 

The lawsuit was filed in May over a PIT maneuver that occurred back in July 2020 on U.S. Highway 67/167 in Pulaski County. 

Nicole Harper, who was pregnant at the time, was driving near Jacksonville when she noticed police officer Senior Corporeal Rodney Dunn signaling for her to pull over. In accordance with the Arkansas Driver License Study Guide, Harper slowed down and put on her hazard lights while looking for a safe place to stop on the reduced shoulder of that section of the interstate. 

The dash camera video from Dunn’s patrol car shows Harper pulling into the right lane, slowing down, and turning on her hazards. Less than three minutes after turning on his siren, Dunn performed a PIT maneuver, causing Harper’s SUV to swerve through three lanes before crashing into the concrete median and flipping. Smoke could be seen rising from the car.

“In my head, I was going to lose the baby,” Harper, who was pregnant with her daughter at the time of the crash, was reported saying. 

Dunn was recorded through his body mic talking to Harper after the crash. He asked, “Why didn’t you stop?”

“Because I didn’t feel it was safe,” said Harper. To which Dunn unsympathetically replied, “Well this is where you ended up.”

The incident happened less than a mile from the next exit, where the interstate shoulder widens.  

Harper’s lawyer, Andrew Norwood, has argued that Dunn chose to use deadly force against a pregnant woman who was in the process of looking for a safe place to stop, putting the life and her and her child at risk. Additionally, the officer conducted the maneuver without any knowledge of who was in the car and whether there were any small children on board. “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,” said Norwood. 

The police plan to fight the lawsuit, with the Attorney General’s Office representing the Arkansas State Police. According to their spokeswoman, “due to pending litigation, the Attorney General’s Office is unable to provide a comment at this time.” 

Unfortunately the outcome of the suit is unlikely to have any personal impact on officer Dunn, as he is immune from any personal responsibility for his actions under Arkansas law.