The Arkansas State Police have confirmed the statement from plaintiffs’ lawyers this morning that a settlement had been reached over a lawsuit challenging a trooper’s use of a “PIT maneuver,” an intentional crash with a pursued vehicle, to stop a woman who a trooper said had been speeding on Highway 67-167 near Jacksonville in 2020 and didn’t stop when he pulled behind her. The motorist, Janice Harper, said she’d slowed, put on blinkers and was attempting to stop but looking for a safe place on the construction-arrowed roadway. The maneuver rolled over the pregnant woman’s vehicle, but she escaped injury.
The State Police statement:
The Arkansas State Police has reached a settlement agreement in a civil action filed earlier this year arising out of a July 9, 2020 traffic stop. Corporal Rod Dunn used a precision immobilization technique [PIT] to force Janice Harper’s vehicle to stop.
Approximately two weeks after the use of force incident, an internal complaint was filed by department supervisors. The subsequent mandatory internal review of the incident led by Highway Patrol Division commanders found that Corporal Dunn failed to comply with the state police Use of Force policy in executing the PIT maneuver.
The internal review process resulted in disciplinary action taken against Corporal Dunn, who prior to the incident, had maintained an exemplary record of service. Corporal Dunn is a 27-year veteran of the department and continues in his role as a state trooper assigned to the Highway Patrol Division.
The Arkansas State Police periodically initiates revisions to its pursuit policy to ensure it is consistent with applicable case law and existing training related to the PIT maneuver. The department has consistently required its troopers to apply an objectively reasonable standard when using the PIT maneuver and will continue to do so.
From 2016 through July 2021, the Arkansas State Police has witnessed a greater than 170 percent increase in the number of pursuits in central Arkansas. The increase raises the risk to innocent Arkansans and state troopers remain committed to ensuring the safety of the public by terminating pursuits the troopers reasonably believe places the public at serious risk of physical injury or death.
I’ve asked follow-up questions about the statement by plaintiff lawyers that there’s been a change in written policy on the use of the maneuver and I’ve made a request for documents that reflect the monetary settlement that has been reached.