On the night of July 9, 2020, Nicole Harper went to bed crying, thinking she was no longer pregnant after an Arkansas state trooper — using a police driving maneuver to end car chases — flipped her vehicle on a highway after he accused her of not pulling over quickly enough during a traffic stop.
After the crash, an emergency room doctor told Harper, who was 2 months pregnant at the time, that “not all pregnancies are viable” and that he could not detect a heartbeat, her lawyer, Andrew Norwood, told BuzzFeed News on Friday.
The next day, however, a doctor detected a heartbeat, and Harper, who had spent years trying to get pregnant, is now the mother of a 4-month-old baby girl, Norwood said.
But Harper is suing the state trooper for “negligently performing” a “precision immobilization technique” or PIT — a driving maneuver used by law enforcement that can have deadly consequences.
In a civil lawsuit filed last month, Harper alleged that state trooper Rodney K. Dunn’s use of the PIT flipped her vehicle and “placed her life and the life of her unborn child at risk.”
Harper is seeking damages after she suffered “bodily injuries, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment,” the lawsuit states.
She is also fighting two criminal charges against her for speeding 1 to 15 miles over the limit and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, her lawyer said. The criminal trial is scheduled for November.
While the civil lawsuit alleges that Harper suffered severe bodily injuries, Norwood declined to describe them in detail but said “the mental harm she suffered is way worse than the physical harm.”
“She’s not after the money. She wants the PIT policy reevaluated,” Norwood said. “You shouldn’t flip someone’s car for the smallest traffic violation possible.”
The Arkansas State Police declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit, but a spokesperson said Friday that the agency “continues to instruct and train state troopers in comprehensive emergency vehicle operation training, which includes the approved procedures in the use of PIT.”
Norwood said Harper was not trying to flee from the police officer and she wasn’t a threat to anyone during the pursuit. It’s a victimless crime, Norwood said, that led the officer to deploy excessive and unreasonable force against her.
That night, Harper was driving home alone on US Highway 67/167 after watching a movie with family members 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 pursuing Harper, who immediately switched on her hazard lights, slowed down, and pulled into the right lane, according to a dashcam video provided to BuzzFeed News by Norwood.
Harper felt there wasn’t enough room on either shoulder of the highway due to concrete barriers to safely pull over her car, she states in her lawsuit and in a conversation with…