Arkansas state trooper sued for allegedly causing a pregnant woman’s car to flip during traffic stop

An Arkansas woman is suing a state trooper after she claims he performed a dangerous pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver during a traffic stop, which caused her vehicle to flip on its top as she attempted to pull over.

An attorney for Janice Nicole Harper filed the lawsuit last month in Pulaski County, the county seat of Little Rock. Harper, who was two months pregnant at the time of the July 9, 2020, incident, alleges Arkansas State Police Trooper Rodney Dunn negligently performed the PIT maneuver that resulted in a motor vehicle collision.

Harper said she slowed down, but didn’t immediately pull over because there was no safe place for her to do so.

“The shoulder did not have enough room for my car alone, but my thoughts were also he, the officer, didn’t need to be standing beside my car there. Like there literally was not enough room,” she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Alan C. Johnson, an Arkansas State Trooper and Dunn’s supervisor, along with Col. William Bryant, Arkansas State Police director, are also named in the suit.

The suit also states that Arkansas State Police failed to train Dunn in the appropriate manner of initiating a traffic stop on a road with extremely reduced shoulder and in proper and safe PIT maneuver technique.

CNN has reached out to the Arkansas State Police for a statement. CNN has not been able to reach Dunn, and it is unknown if he has an attorney.

According to the lawsuit, Harper was traveling on US Highway 67 when Dunn clocked her speeding — she was going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone. The suit states that Dunn activated his emergency lights to initiate a stop on Harper. Within seconds of the trooper initiating his overhead lights, Harper turned on her blinkers and dropped her speed to 60 mph and moved into the right travel lane.

According to the Arkansas Driver License Guide, when drivers are being stopped by the police, they should activate their turn signal or emergency flashers to indicate they are seeking a safe place to stop and pull over to the right side of the road.

However, due to concrete barriers and a reduced shoulder on both sides of the road, Harper was unable to safely stop her vehicle on the right or left shoulder, according to the lawsuit.

“If you watch a little bit more of the video … it was a little bit before where he hit me, you’ll notice a sign that says the exit is one mile away. Just after he hit me, the road kind of turns and it opens up. And the shoulder does get bigger. There is more space. And it would have been so much safer,” Harper said.

Dashcam video from Dunn’s patrol car on the night of the incident shows Harper traveling in the right lane with her hazard lights on and slowing down. In the video obtained by CNN, Dunn performed a PIT maneuver on Harper’s vehicle allegedly causing her to lose control, flipping the car on its top.

“There were no exits or shoulder for Plaintiff to safely exit the highway, before Defendant Dunn negligently executed a PIT maneuver on Plaintiff’s vehicle two minutes and seven seconds after Defendant Dunn initiated his Arkansas State Police patrol cruiser overhead lights, which caused Plaintiff’s vehicle to flip.” the lawsuit stated.

Dunn was seen in the dashcam video approaching the wreckage. As he helps her out, he is heard asking her, “why didn’t you stop?”

Harper is heard telling Dunn “because I didn’t feel like it was safe”.

“I thought he was getting on to me, telling me I was doing something wrong, and in my mind I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. And I was trying to keep us both safe,” Harper said.

Harper was cited in the incident for speeding and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, Denton said.

But, according to Harper the trooper could not have thought she was trying to get away.

“I don’t understand how they’re charging me with fleeing when I wasn’t fleeing. That doesn’t make any sense at all to me,” she said.

The video also shows that Harper told the trooper she was pregnant as she attempts to get out of the flipped SUV. An attorney for Harper told CNN his client did sustain undisclosed injuries in the accident and sought medical treatment. Harper’s unborn child was not harmed, according to attorney Joe Denton. Harper told CNN the baby is now four months old and doing well.

“Defendant Dunn’s conduct constituted a reckless attempt to engage in conduct that created substantial risk of physical injury to Plaintiff,” the lawsuit read.

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The pandemic changed the way we ate and shopped — not always for the better

The pandemic changed the way we ate and shopped — not always for the better

FILE – In this May 23, 2011 file photo, consumer Sonia Romero shops for tomatoes at a Superior Grocers store in Los Angeles. As food costs continue rising, many grocery shoppers are seeking new ways to cut costs. After you’ve tried every store brand and linked, scanned and clipped every coupon in sight, what about buying in bulk? (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(CNN) — Covid-19 affected our lives in so many ways, including how we ate and shopped. The changes were not always for the better, according to a series of reports presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition.

Increase in junk food intake

An analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some of us increased our consumption of unhealthy snacks and desserts, including chips, cookies and ice cream, while also guzzling more sugary drinks such as sweetened coffee and teas, regular sodas, fruit drinks, and sports or energy drinks.

Over a third (36%) of the nearly 4,000 Americans who were surveyed in June 2020 reported sometimes consuming more unhealthy snacks and desserts than before the pandemic, while 22% said they sometimes drank sugary drinks.

However, 16% said they ate snacks and sweets often or always, while 10% said the same of sugary beverages. People who reported consuming the most unhealthy foods and drinks were more likely to identify as Hispanic or Black and be younger than age 65, obese, female, and of lower income and education levels.

The same survey also asked about food availability and safety. Nearly 6 in 10 people — predominately lower-income, unemployed, Black or Hispanic adults — said they were worried about not being able to obtain food at nearby stores or were concerned they might catch Covid-19 from food. Early fears that Covid-19 could be spread via food packaging were quickly discounted by scientists.

These findings “highlight the importance of strategies and communications that reduce fears and prevent unintended negative behaviors,” such as food hoarding and panic buying, said dietitian Brianna Dumas, a fellow in the CDC’s Research Participation Program, in an abstract.

In addition, public health officials should stress “consumer awareness of food access options during emergencies, including promotion of hunger safety net programs, especially among disproportionately affected groups,” Dumas said.

A drop in healthy foods

Another study analyzed the diets of more than 2,000 Americans before and during the pandemic and found a decrease in the consumption of healthy foods, including vegetables and whole grains, during the past year.

“This decrease was the most pronounced among women, black and Latino study participants, and participants who gained at least five pounds or more since 2018,” said Caroline Um, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Cancer Society, in a statement.

Um plans to follow study participants to understand how their diets might continue to change. Other studies will investigate which factors, such as mental health or financial stressors, might be involved in the change in eating behaviors.

Kids gained weight

Nearly 30% of 433 parents surveyed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University said their child had gained an average of 9.6 pounds in the months between May and September of 2020.

Parents of children between 5 and 18 years old were questioned before the pandemic and again in May and September of 2020 about their concerns regarding their child’s weight.

Families who said their child gained weight during that time period were concerned about that trend and attempted to monitor and restrict their child’s eating habits in both May and September. However, in families where children did not gain weight, parents were initially concerned and monitored their child’s food intake in May, but had stopped doing so by September.

Further research is needed to investigate and target the “different behavioral, societal, environmental, and psychosocial factors” that might contribute to weight gain among children and adolescents, wrote Melanie Bean, an associate professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Healthy Lifestyles Center at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, in an abstract.

Teasing people about their weight

Another study presented at the conference looked at the impact on children when family members teased them or made other critical comments about their weight. Researchers from Tufts University found that exposure to negative family comments about weight “as little as 3 times per month was significantly associated with moderate to high levels of weight bias internalization,” according to the study.

Prior research has shown that when children and adults experience weight stigma and internalize it, that itself can predict weight gain.

“A common perception is that a little shame or stigma might motivate people to lose weight, but that is not what we see in research,” Rebecca Puhl, deputy director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, told CNN in a prior interview.

“In fact, when people experience weight stigma, this actually contributes to unhealthy eating behaviors, lower physical activity and weight gain,” Puhl said. “Our studies show that when parents shift the conversation to healthy behaviors, that tends to be much more effective.

“The focus isn’t on the number on the weight scale, but on the whole family eating fruits and vegetables, replacing soda with water, getting daily physical activity,” she added.

Online grocery shopping

A study done in the early days of the pandemic — March and April of 2020 — found that a third of the nearly 18,000 households surveyed said they were shopping online for groceries, and, of those, 60% said they planned to continue to do so after the pandemic passed.

Their top reasons? Over 80% said it was to “avoid public germs and Covid-19,” while 44% wanted to “take advantage of the convenience,” according to Shu Wen Ng, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Higher food prices in areas with higher restrictions

Researchers from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy analyzed retail prices for food and other consumer goods in 133 counties in the United States and compared them to the levels of Covid-19 restrictions imposed by local governments.
Results showed that a higher level of government restrictions during the pandemic was associated with higher food prices, but did not affect the cost of other consumer goods.