Denton & Zachary, the law firm representing plaintiff Janice Nicole Harper, has reached a settlement agreement in her case against the Arkansas State Police that will lead to policy changes on the use of Precision Immobilization Techniques, or “PIT maneuvers.”
These maneuvers involve law enforcement officers using their vehicle to strike a fleeing car, causing it to spin out of control and conclude the pursuit. Additionally, the Arkansas State Police have had officers undergo additional training after learning of the PIT maneuver used on Harper.
While traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 67 / 167 in Pulaski County on July 9, 2020, Arkansas State Trooper Rodney K. Dunn attempted a traffic stop after observing the plaintiff driving over the speed limit. Dash camera video showed the plaintiff slowing down and turning on their hazard lights while waiting for a safe place to pull off the road, which had concrete barriers alongside the highway. Several minutes later, the trooper conducted a PIT maneuver, which resulted in the plaintiff’s vehicle crashing. The plaintiff was two-months pregnant at the time. After reviewing video footage of the incident and PIT maneuver in question, Denton & Zachary attorneys learned that every one of the trooper’s superiors determined the situation reflected a violation of the Arkansas State Police policy related to the PIT maneuver.
Arkansas State Police, as part of the settlement agreement, has agreed to change its Use of Force policy as it relates to PIT maneuvers and institute an “objective standard” required to justify the maneuver’s use versus the previous “subjective standard.” Both the plaintiff and Denton & Zachary hope the dash camera video footage of this encounter can be utilized as a training tool for Arkansas State Troopers to indicate what not to do in similar situations and help ensure this does not happen to another Arkansan.
“We are extremely pleased that we were able to secure the policy changes and updated guidelines pertaining to the use of PIT maneuvers which was the primary goal of this case and will help protect all Arkansans moving forward,” said Denton & Zachary, PLLC Attorney Andrew Norwood who represented the plaintiff. “While Mrs. Harper will undoubtedly need time to recover from the psychological trauma she suffered after the PIT maneuver in question, she is excited to close this chapter of her life and focus more on her family.”