Driver Janice Harper was pregnant at the time of the incident and was caught driving at 135 km / h (84 mph) on a section of highway 67/167, reports local NBC affiliate KARK . Dashcam footage of Corporal Rodney Dunn’s police car shows Harper slowing down and using her hazard lights.
In the video, after the incident, she can be heard explaining that she was looking for a safe place to stop, as she was on a section of highway with a narrow shoulder. In the same video, Corporal Dunn explains that she had to stop, although the Arkansas Driver’s License Study Guide writes that drivers are allowed to indicate their intention to stop by signaling their dangers and while waiting for a safe place to stop.
Read more: Questions Raised After Officer Performed Fatal 109 MPH PIT Maneuver
Corporal Dunn, however, stopped beside the driver with his sirens on, then turned to Harper’s rear quarter panel, forcing him to pull sharply to the left, through three lanes of traffic and in the concrete median, after which his vehicle rolled over and ended up on its roof.
“In my head I was going to lose the baby,” Harper told Fox16. Harper’s attorney, Andrew Norwood, argues Corporal Dunn’s actions are viewed as “lethal force.”
“There was a less dangerous and safer avenue that could have been taken before turning his vehicle around and bouncing it off a concrete barrier at 60 miles per hour,” Norwood told Fox.
The Arkansas State Police have recently been criticized for using the PIT maneuver. A KARK investigation found that between 2017 and 2020, officers used the maneuver 306 times and half of those occurred in 2020. The known risk of the maneuver has led several law enforcement agencies to impose strict limits on the use of the PIT maneuver and has led some to use it only when the use of lethal force is justified. Arkansas Senator Bob Ballinger echoed that sentiment at Fox.
“At this point, I don’t know if the state police are not doing everything right,” he said. “At the same time, we don’t want to kill them for running a red light or for fleeing from elsewhere if we can avoid doing so. “
To Harper, whose car was overturned for going over 14 mph and then trying to stop in a way that’s safer for herself and the corporal, this scenario may seem more than academic.
“What if I have kids in the car?” He wouldn’t have known it, ”Harper said. ” Is it important ? What was going through his mind? What made him think everything was okay?