3/18/2021Arkansas: Federal Judge Clears Cop Who Intentionally Crashed Fleeing Motorcyclist
Motorcyclist loses federal lawsuit against police officer who stopped a chase by forcing him to crash.
A federal judge on Monday rejected the lawsuit filed by a motorcyclist who lost his leg when a police officer intentionally positioned his squad car to cause a crash ending a chase. Unlike most chases, the pursuit of Christopher A. Lankford, the 30-year-old motorcyclist, did not begin with a crime or traffic violation.
On October 10, 2018, Morrilton, Arkansas Police Officer Taylor Dube saw a passenger, Jerry Davis, had fallen off the back of Lankford's 2007 Harley Davidson Street Glide FLHX near the Interstate 40 onramp. At the time, the bike was not speeding. Davis got back onto the motorcycle and they continued on their way, but Officer Dube wanting to investigate further turned on his overhead lights to conduct a stop.
"I also wanted to speak with Lankford about his driving causing Davis to fall off," Officer Dube wrote in his report on the incident.
Lankford pulled over, Davis hopped off the back, and then Lankford sped away.
The three-minute pursuit hit Highway 64 toward Plumerville at speeds of around 100 MPH. After being called and asked to put a stop to the chase, Plumerville Assistant Police Chief Albert Duvall placed his SUV in Lankford's path, perpendicular to the road, effectively blocking both lanes of travel. As Lankford approached, Officer Duvall moved his SUV forward, thwarting Lankford's attempt to avoid the collision by veering onto the shoulder.
After reviewing the dashcam video of the incident, the Morrilton Police Department was not happy with what the Plumerville officer had done that day.
"I advised both [Morrilton] officers that if they found themselves in a situation like that not to block the roadway and to let the motorcycle pass, unless it was a deadly force situation," Assistant Chief Trent Anderson wrote in his after-action review of the incident.
Plumerville's own review of the incident, on the other hand, found no wrongdoing. Lankford sued the officers and his lawyers argued that, without presenting an imminent threat, Lankford's riding did not justify the use of potentially deadly force. US District Court Judge James M. Moody Jr did not buy that argument. He sided with Plumerville by tossing the lawsuit with prejudice.
"The court finds that Duvall did not violate Lankford's Fourth Amendment rights," Judge Moody concluded. "Lankford admits to fleeing from the police and driving at least 105 miles per hour, running a stop sign and crossing the yellow line. The chase lasted in excess of three minutes. These facts establish that Lankford was driving in a fashion as to endanger human life. Accordingly, even if Duvall pulled his car over in a manner likely to cause the collision and serious injury or death, that use of force did not violate the Fourth Amendment."
A copy of the report is available in a PDF file at the source link below.