LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An attorney who previously sued the Arkansas State Police over how it used a controlled-crash technique shared his thoughts after a trooper recently performed a similar move in error.
A tactile vehicle intervention, or TVI, was used by Cpl. Thomas Hubbard last weekend on Interstate 40 in St. Francis County when chasing two vehicles going over 100 miles an hour.
On Monday, ASP officials reported that the TVI was performed “in error,” with Hubbard striking a car that was not involved with the chase.
State police said both the car that was hit and the car being pursued were white four-door sedans, leading to the confusion and causing the wrong car to be run off the road.
Attorney Andrew Norwood said he has experience in this area. He settled a lawsuit with the ASP in 2021 regarding a precision immobilization technique, or PIT maneuver.
Norwood explained the car driven by his client, Janice Nicole Harper, was flipped during a stop involving a PIT maneuver in July of 2020.
“Miss Harper was on her way home from a movie with her husband,” Norwood said. “She was going approximately 12 or 13 miles over the speed limit.”
Norwood said Harper turned her flashers on trying to make it to the next exit when she was spun out. The SUV Harper was driving ended up on its top as a result of crash.
Part of the lawsuit settlement between Harper and the state was getting the ASP PIT policy changed.
“The old policy was essentially the officer could do it if that officer believed it was okay to do it, minus a couple of expectations, someone on a motorcycle, somebody in the back of a truck,” Norwood explained.
The policy has gone from what he says was a subjective standard to an objective standard.
“We moved away from that, minus those couple of exceptions, to more of an objective standard, which is what a reasonable officer would do under those circumstances,” the attorney said.
Watching the video from Sep. 10, Norwood said he doesn’t think the error had much to do with the new standard, instead claiming it was a different issue.
“That’s just negligence, to drive up on a car and not be able to check a license plate, or not be able to check other circumstances to make sure you’re pitting the right car,” he told KARK 4 News.
After the lawsuit in 2021, Norwood was told all officers were getting retrained on the new policy. He is hoping that the troopers in the future learn from both his client’s experience and this incident.
“Moving forward, I just hope that the Arkansas State Police embraces the issues that we’re seeing and takes steps to train these officers to make sure that they’re put in a position to protect themselves and Arkansans,” Norwood said.
State officials said the driver and passenger in the car that was struck in the recent TVI were not injured and did not go to the hospital.
ASP officials said Hubbard, the trooper involved in the stop, has not been on duty since the crash and has submitted a letter of retirement. An investigation into the crash is still underway.