An Arkansas woman is suing state police after a two-minute car chase led to her vehicle flipping over when she was two months pregnant, citing concerns that "reckless" conduct of a state trooper endangered her unborn baby.
In July 2020, Nicole Harper, 38, was going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone on U.S. Highway 167 in Jacksonville, Arkansas, when a trooper attempted to pull her over. The incident led to a two-minute car chase, followed by the state trooper intentionally bumping her car, resulting in it being flipped over.
Harper was taken to the emergency room, and despite initially being unable to find a fetal heartbeat, her baby survived.
"In my head, I was going to lose the baby," Harper said, according to Fox 16.
Harper's lawsuit, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court on May 18, claims that state trooper Rodney Dunn used excessive use of force and the use of a PIT maneuver was negligent. Precision Immobilization Technique maneuvers are typically used by the state police to intentionally hit or spin cars out during chases.
The suit alleges Dunn's actions "constituted a reckless attempt to engage in conduct that created substantial risk of physical injury."
A dashcam video of the incident showed Harper slowing down, putting her blinkers on, and changing lanes, so she could pull over, according to her lawyer Andrew Norwood.
After about two minutes and seven seconds, the trooper tapped Harper's car, causing her to veer left and come out of the dashcam's view. Her car flipped as a result. Dunn is then seen approaching Harper's vehicle, asking her why she did not stop her vehicle.
"Because I didn't feel like it was safe," Harper said.
"Well, this is where you ended up," Dunn responded. "Ma'am, you got to pull over."
The Arkansas driver's license manual says vehicle operators should pull over to the nearest and safest spot out of the traffic lane if an officer is attempting to pull them over.
Harper has been charged with speeding and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, which carries a maximum penalty of a $400 fine. Dunn faces no charges.
Norwood said his client is seeking damages, but her goal is to prevent this from happening to another driver by driving policy changes to the use of PIT maneuvers, according to KARK-TV of Little Rock. The amount of damages was not disclosed.
When she arrived at the emergency room the night of the crash, a doctor told Harper that a fetal heartbeat could not be detected, prompting her to believe her baby was dead.
However, an exam by her OB-GYN the next morning picked up a heartbeat, and the baby was born in February, according to NBC News.
Arkansas State Police did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.
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Original Author: Mica Soellner