Dramatic dashcam footage has captured the moment a PIT maneuver went wrong during a high-speed chase in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
A report from 5 News Online says that the chase started at around 6:30 a.m. on April 10 when an officer with the U.S. Forestry Service noticed a black Ram 1500 pickup run a red light. The truck was being driven by 34-year-old Justin Battenfield and before long, a pursuit was underway.
After 17 minutes on the run, the Arkansas State Police took over the chase as Battenfield weaved down Zero Street in Fort Smith at speeds exceeding 100 mph (160 km/h). Pursuing Trooper Michael Shawn Ellis was then given the order to stop the truck.
“Fourteen, get up there and get him stopped, because he’s driving on the wrong—on the other side of the road and we need to get him stopped,” an Arkansas State Police supervisor said over the radio. “I don’t care if he’s brake-checking you. Get this car stopped as soon as there’s an opening on the highway.”
Trooper Ellis quickly found that opening and performed a PIT maneuver at 109 mph (175 km/h).
After hitting the rear quarter of the Ram, the pickup slides in front of the trooper and is pushed into a ditch on the side of the road. This effectively turns the underside of the truck into a ramp, sending the police vehicle soaring into the air and crashing into a utility police. Battenfield died in the crash while Trooper Ellis suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
In the aftermath of the crash, the Arkansas Police announced a joint probe into the crash by its Highway Patrol and Criminal Investigation divisions to see if authorities acted appropriately in performing a PIT maneuver at such high speeds. In a statement, Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler defended the practice.
“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.”