What is a PIT Maneuver, and how does it work? The Nicole Harper case shines a focus on a police tactic.
The issue over law enforcement’s use of the pursuit intervention technique, or PIT, to halt car pursuits has been revived by a lawsuit filed against an Arkansas State Police trooper.
Nicole Harper was just over two months pregnant when her car was turned over on a highway outside of Jacksonville in July 2020. Officer Rodney Dunn utilized a PIT maneuver to stop her automobile as she was going at around 60 miles per hour.
Harper’s lawyers have published dashcam footage of the incident as part of her lawsuit against Dunn, arguing that his use of the maneuver was reckless and put her life in danger.
Dunn is seen turning on his blue lights and attempting to pull Harper over for reportedly driving at 84 mph in a 70 mph zone, according to the video. Harper can then be seen slowing down and activating her emergency flashers, indicating that she was about to pull over.
Harper explained that she was seeking for a safe place to pull over since the freeway shoulder was too narrow.
Dunn performs a PIT, which is routinely utilized by cops to halt high-speed chases, a short time later. A patrol car is nudged into the back of the suspect’s automobile, causing it to spin and come to a rest.
“Finesse is the key to good execution of the PIT,” according to California Highway Patrol regulations. The initial contact with the subject vehicle should ideally be so mild that the subject vehicle’s operator is unaware that contact has occurred.”
Harper’s SUV completely rolled over after Dunn collided with it.
While still upside down in her car, Harper can be heard telling Dunn, “I thought it would be safer to wait till the exit.”
“No, ma’am, you should pull over when law enforcement stops you,” Dunn replies while helping her out of the vehicle. “We call that a PIT maneuver. When people flee from us … that’s what happens.”
“I wasn’t fleeing,” Harper responds.
The use of the maneuver has come into question because of its potentially deadly outcomes.
According to a Washington Post report from August 2020, at least 30 people have died and hundreds more have been injured in PIT incidents since 2016.
Of those 30 deaths, 18 took place after officers attempted to. This is a brief summary.