LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The ACLU of Arkansas is asking lawmakers to have state police rethink their use of a high-speed chase technique following a lawsuit and a Working 4 You investigation.
In a release, the group asked state officials to review how the Arkansas State Police are using the Precision Immobilization Technique, or PIT, maneuver, after its use during pursuits led to three deaths in 2020.
A recent lawsuit filed by an Arkansas driver is now making national headlines and shining a spotlight on how troopers use the PIT maneuver. The driver, Nicole Harper, said she had slowed down and turned on her hazard lights as she was attempting to get to a less-congested part of the roadway on I-67/167 last July.
Senior Cpl. Rodney Dunn, the trooper involved in the incident, claims Harper was fleeing and performed a PIT maneuver on her SUV less than two minutes after turning on his patrol vehicles emergency lights, flipping the vehicle on its top.
Harper, who was pregnant at the time of the crash, told Working 4 You investigative reporter Susan El Khoury that she was scared for her future daughter, saying “In my head, I was going to lose the baby.”
Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said this case was an example of law enforcement officers “escalating mere traffic violations into dangerous situations.”
“These deadly maneuvers are a reminder that police are routinely escalating mere traffic violations into dangerous situations that endanger the lives of all motorists,” Dickson explained in a statement. “The Arkansas General Assembly must scrutinize the unnecessary and excessive use of traffic maneuvers like PIT.”
She went on to say that this traffic stop shows the need for a statewide oversight board to review the actions of officers and claims of misconduct.
“Nicole Harper was forced into a horrific and life-threatening crash by a police officer and the senseless risk to her life and the lives of others should concern every Arkansan,” Dickson stated. “Incidents like these also demonstrate the need for a statewide oversight board to investigate police misconduct and abuse, and a fundamental re-imagining of the role of police in our communities. What we’re seeing on this video is not safety – it’s deadly force and reckless endangerment – and it needs to stop.”
An earlier Working 4 You investigation showed just how much more frequently ASP troopers have been using PIT maneuvers on Arkansas roads, with records showing the technique being used at least 306 times since 2017, with half of those instances in 2020.
Records obtained as part of that investigation show many pursuits that resulted in a PIT started as minor traffic violations like improper lane change and speeding, as was the case in Harper’s incident.