We have graphic footage of an Arkansas patrol officer performing a pursuit intervention technique or “PIT maneuver” on a speeding Ram pickup. Unfortunately, it turned deadly for the person in the pickup. It happened on Friday, April 10, when the US Forest Service reported seeing a Ram pickup run a red light in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Once the Arkansas State Police started their pursuit the pickup had been speeding along Zero Street at over 110 mph. When it was observed the truck began weaving into oncoming traffic. That’s when the trooper in the lead car was ordered to stop the pickup by any means. The trooper then pulled up next to the truck and performed the PIT maneuver turning the chase deadly.
The PIT maneuver causes the truck to pitch sideways hitting a culvert at 100 mph
You can see the truck pitched in front of the police car at over 100 mph as it rolls onto its side. As the two vehicles slide together leaving the highway the truck hits a culvert that launches the police car over the truck. At that moment the truck is on its top as it smashes into the far side of the culvert crushing the cab.
The police car is launched 20 feet into the air before hitting a telephone pole and almost in slow motion slams back onto the ground. The footage from WVTM News shows views from both the lead pursuit car and the follow-up police car which catches the deadly collision and aftermath.
The suspect in the pickup was killed
Justin Battenfield driving the pickup was killed. He was 34 years old. Trooper Michael Shawn Ellis was hospitalized but his injuries were considered not life-threatening. In most cases, officers are advised to follow the suspect and keep a safe distance. Sometimes police cars will completely stop a pursuit if a police helicopter is monitoring the suspect. These situations are handled this way to avoid reckless behavior by the suspect and also to avoid pursuing police having to perform unsafe maneuvers to keep up.
But in this case, the driver of the pickup was swerving at high rates of speed and driving into oncoming traffic. The trooper was advised to stop the pickup by any means. It becomes a matter of protecting the general public. The police also stated that at any time a chase can be suspended “by the primary unit or ordered by a supervisor at any time during the pursuit.” But a supervisor commanded trooper Ellis to stop the pickup as soon as possible.
Police have not indicated the reason for Battenfield’s speeding and erratic driving
The suspect and trooper could have both been killed had things changed even slightly. So far the police have not indicated the reason for Battenfield’s speeding and erratic driving.
The same day as the incident the Arkansas State Police announced a joint probe by the Highway Patrol and Criminal Investigations divisions. A police statement stated, “PIT has been used by the Arkansas State Police for no less than the past 18-20 years and continues to be used by state troopers, particularly if innocent lives are being threatened, as was the case involving the Fort Smith incident.”