KEY POINTS

  • The woman was looking for a safe place to park and had kept her hazard light on
  • The woman's pregnancy was not severely impacted by the crash
  • Motorists can use hazard lights to indicate they are seeking a safe place to stop

An Arkansas woman claimed that an officer rammed her car and flipped it over as she was seeking a safe place to pull over. A lawsuit claimed that the woman, who was pregnant, sustained injuries when the officer used the dangerous maneuver on the car which had its hazard lights on.

Dashcam footage showed Janice Harper slowing down and switching her hazard lights on after trooper Rodney Dunn initiated a traffic stop in 2020. The police car can be seen following her for two minutes along the road, which had no visible exit. 

Then the police cruiser was seen bumping the left rear edge of Harper's vehicle in a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver, which is often used in police chases, reported USA Today. It caused the victim’s car to swerve across the highway, hit a barrier and flip upside down.

Dunn walked over to the flipped car and could be heard telling Harper, "Well ma'am, you've got to pull over when we tell you."

Harper points out to Dunn that her flashers were on, reported CBS News.

"It doesn't matter ma'am," he says.

Harper says, "I thought it would be safer to wait until the exit."

"No ma'am, you pull over when law enforcement stops you, OK," Dunn replies.

According to the Arkansas Driver License Study Guide, motorists can use hazard lights to indicate that the driver is seeking a safe place to stop when being pulled over by police, claimed the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit claims that Dunn’s "negligently performed" PIT maneuver, resulted in Harper suffering "bodily injuries, mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment." Harper’s pregnancy was not severely impacted due to the flip. 

Arkansas State Police director Col. William J. Bryant and state trooper Alan C. Johnson, Dunn’s supervisor, have also been named in the lawsuit as accountable. The lawsuit also claimed that the department failed to train Dunn how to properly execute a PTI maneuver during a traffic stop, reported USA Today.

In a statement to KARK-TV, Bryant defended the use of PTI.

"PIT has proven to be an effective tool to stop drivers who are placing others in harm’s way. It has saved lives among those who choose to obey the law against those who choose to run from the police. 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."

Delaware state trooper State Troopers | Representational Image Photo: Reuters/Tim Shaffer