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Woman Sues an Arkansas State Trooper On Account Of The Car Accident Caused While She Was Pregnant

Nicole Harper was 2 months pregnant when an Arkansas state trooper, caused a car accident by flipping her vehicle over by using a police driving maneuver on a highway for not pulling over quick enough.

car accident
Screen capture from a dashcam video shows Arkansas state trooper Rodney Dunn checking Nicole Harper’s car after it flipped over in July 2020. (Courtesy of Denton & Zachary, PLLC)

On the night of July 9, 2020, Nicole Harper hit the bed crying, thinking she was not, at this point pregnant after an Arkansas state trooper — using a police driving move to end vehicle pursues — flipped her vehicle on an expressway after he blamed her for not pulling over quickly enough during a traffic stop.

After the car accident, an emergency room doctor told Harper, who was 2 months pregnant at that point, that “not all pregnancies are practical” and that he was unable to identify a heartbeat, her lawyer, Andrew Norwood, revealed.

The following day, however, a doctor detected a heartbeat, and Harper, who had gone through years attempting to get pregnant, is currently the mother of a 4-month-old baby girl, Norwood said.

Nicole Harper and her baby girl (Courtesy of Denton & Zachary, PLLC)

However, Harper is suing the state trooper for “carelessly playing out” a “precision immobilization technique” or PIT — a driving move used by law enforcement that can have destructive results.

In a civil claim recorded last month, Harper affirmed that state trooper Rodney K. Dunn’s use of the PIT flipped her vehicle and “put her life and the existence of her unborn kid in danger.”

Harper is looking for harm after she endured “bodily wounds, mental torment, embarrassment, and humiliation,” the claim states.

She is also battling two criminal charges against her for speeding 1 to 15 miles over the breaking point and inability to respect an emergency vehicle, her lawyer said. The criminal preliminary is booked for November.

While the common claim affirms that Harper endured extreme bodily wounds, Norwood declined to depict them exhaustively however said “the mental harm she endured is a path more awful than the physical harm.”

“She’s not after the cash. She needs the PIT policy reconsidered,” her lawyer, Norwood said. “You shouldn’t flip somebody’s car for the littlest smallest traffic offense possible.”

The Arkansas State Police declined to remark, referring to the pending claim, but a representative said Friday that the office “proceeds to teach and train state troopers  in extensive crisis vehicle operation training, which remembers the supported strategies for the use of PIT.”

Norwood said Harper was making an effort not to escape from the cop and she wasn’t a danger to anybody during the pursuit. It’s a victimless crime, the lawyer said, that drove the official to send an excessive and unreasonable force against her.

Twitter @ sawyerhackett

That night, Harper was driving home alone on US Highway 67/167 in the wake of watching a film with relatives when Dunn initiated a traffic stop against her for going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone.

He turned on his lights and siren while seeking after Harper, who quickly turned on her danger lights, eased back down, and pulled into the right lane, according to a dashcam video gave to BuzzFeed News by Norwood.

Harper felt there wasn’t sufficient space on one or the other shoulder of the highway because of concrete barriers to securely pull over her vehicle, she states in her claim and in a discussion with Dunn following the accident. All things being equal, she turned on her signals, dropped her speed to roughly 60 mph, and held on to pull over at an exit ahead, the claim states.

Barely two minutes into the pursuit, Dunn used a PIT — tapping his vehicle into the rear of Harper’s vehicle — to force her to stop. The PIT made her red SUV veer pointedly to one side toward the concrete barrier, and seconds after the fact it flipped over, leaving Harper hanging upside down in her seat.

Dunn tapping his car against Nicole Harper’s vehicle according to the dashcam video (Courtesy of Denton & Zachary, PLLC)

While Dunn was assisting Harper with getting out of the car, he is heard asking her on the dashcam video, “For what reason didn’t you stop?”

“Since I didn’t feel like it was safe… I didn’t feel like there was enough room,” Harper is heard saying.

“Well, this is the place where you ended up,” Dunn answers, as Harper battles to escape from the car.

She is heard telling Dunn, “I’m pregnant!” to which Dunn says, “Well, ma’am, you must draw over when we tell you.”

During their discussion, Harper is heard agreeing with Dunn that she was speeding, however says she didn’t think the shoulders were wide enough for her to pull over. She then, at that point reveals to him that the reason she had turned on her hazard lights was to show that she was going to stop ahead.

“I didn’t think it was ok for you for me to pull around there,” she is heard telling Dunn. “I figured it is safe to stand by until the exit.”

Dunn then, at that point told her how police utilize the PIT maneuver when they believe individuals are fleeing away from them.

“I’ve been doing this for about 27 years, and when people don’t stop, we have no clue about what’s happening inside the vehicle,” Dunn says.

“At the point when people don’t stop for emergency vehicles, we end this on the spot before you get further into blocked traffic,” Dunn adds. “That is the reason we’re here.”

In 2020, the Washington Post detailed that since 2016, about 30 individuals have been killed and hundreds more harmed when police use PIT moves to end vehicle pursues. At any rate 18 of those passings were when police attempted to stop the vehicles for minor traffic offenses like speeding, and in any event, about 4 individuals who died were spectators or survivors of the crime.

Harper’s lawyer Norwood said that at no point has Dunn apologized to Harper for imperiling her life, and he doesn’t know about any disciplinary activity taken against the official. The claim likewise names Dunn’s supervisor, Alan C. Johnson, and director of Arkansas State Police William Bryant as defendants.

Furthermore, lawyer Norwood said he and Harper connected with the state police a few times to determine the issue privately and to encourage them to reexamine their PIT policy, yet said they denied.

In the meantime, Norwood said Harper keeps on being traumatized due to the incident. He also said that he didn’t show her the dashcam footage until three weeks prior.

“I didn’t want to make her remember that,” he said.

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