Who is Nicole Harper? Arkansas woman sues police for flipping her car while she was pregnant

'In my head I was going to lose the baby,' said Nicole Harper about her thoughts right after her car flipped on an interstate


                            Who is Nicole Harper? Arkansas woman sues police for flipping her car while she was pregnant
Screenshot of dashcam footage shows Nicole Harper's overturned car (Twitter/ @StephenSeanFord)

PULASKI COUNTY, ARKANSAS: A woman has accused Arkansas state police of negligence that caused her to be trapped in an overturned car while she was pregnant. Nicole Harper has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas State Police for allegedly negligently performing a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver, which resulted in her car flipping on an interstate.

Harper was pregnant when she was driving that day in July last year when the accident took place. As per reports, Harper was driving at a speed of 84 mph in a 70-mph zone when trooper Rodney Dunn signaled her to stop.

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Who is Nicole Harper?

Nicole Harper, 38, went to bed on July 9, believing her unborn child had died in the crash on US Highway 167 in Jacksonville, Arkansas, her lawyer Andrew Norwood said.

The lawsuit filed last month in Pulaski County Circuit Court stated that immediately after officer Dunn signaled her to stop, he turned on his patrol cruiser's overhead lights. Harper went to the right lane and also switched on her hazard blinkers and slowed down to 60 mph.

The lawsuit stated that Harper was “unable to safely stop her vehicle on the right or left shoulder due to concrete barriers and a reduced shoulder being on both sides of the road… leaving [her] with no room to safely pull over her car.”

The dashcam footage of the incident, which has reemerged alongside the lawsuit, showed that within minutes of turning on his lights, Dunn hit the back of Harper's car in a “pursuit intervention technique,” more popular as a “PIT maneuver,” the lawsuit added.



 

The video showed then-pregnant Harper’s vehicle spin out and flip against a concrete median. The suit noted that Dunn’s action “constituted a reckless attempt to engage in conduct that created substantial risk of physical injury.” The footage also showed the trooper approaching Harper and asking her, “Why didn't you stop?” To which, she replied, “I thought it would be safer to wait until the exit.” “No ma'am, you should pull over when law enforcement stops you. We call that a PIT maneuver. When people flee from us… that's what happens,” Dunn can be heard saying while helping Harper out of the car. “I wasn't fleeing,” the woman added.

Now, through her civil suit, Harper wants “policy change”. Her lawyer, Andrew Norwood of law firm Denton & Zachary, told Fox News on Wednesday, June 9: “She wants policy change. She thinks they should look at the policies around PIT maneuver and re-evaluate the use of them. What was done is ridiculous. … It's extremely dangerous what was done." 

Harper has also criticized the cop's instructions. “What do I need to do in the future? Do I just stop in the middle of the road? Do I just lock it up and slam on the brakes in the middle of the road no matter where I am, no matter what? What if I'm on a bridge? Because the officer said in no uncertain terms, in the video, ‘It doesn’t matter where you are, you just stop,’” the attorney said, conveying Harper's opinions.

Harper also said, “In my head I was going to lose the baby. What if I had kids in the car? He wouldn’t have known. Did that matter? What was going through his head? What made him think this was okay?” 

Meanwhile, in a statement, State Police Director Colonel Bill Bryant said: “There’s a fundamental state law none of us should ever forget. All drivers are required under Arkansas law to safely pull-off the roadway and stop when a police officer activates the patrol vehicle emergency lights and siren. The language of the law is crystal clear. Should a driver make the decision to ignore the law and flee from police, state troopers are trained to consider their options.”

“Based on the totality of circumstances a state trooper could deploy spike strips to deflate the tires of the vehicle being pursued, execute a boxing technique to contain the pursuit slowing the driver to a stop, execute a PIT maneuver or terminate the pursuit. Most Arkansas State Police pursuits end without a PIT maneuver being utilized,” Bryant added.

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