Armed Man Assaults Clerk, Hops Over Counter With Gun, Fires At Man . . . Walgreen Denies Armed Robbery In Progress

We have previously followed employees fired or denied benefits for resisting robberies, even when coming to the aid of customers. In the case of Jeremy Hoven, the pharmacist says he was fired by Walgreens after he foiled a late-night robbery in Michigan. He has now filed a wrongful termination lawsuit and Walgreens’ answer to the complaint has an interesting reported twist.


(Reuters) – A pharmacist fired by the nation’s largest drugstore chain after he foiled a late-night armed robbery of his Michigan store by shooting at the gunmen has sued Walgreens for wrongful termination.

Hoven says two masked gunmen entered the store in Benton Harbor, Michigan, before dawn and he tried to call 911. However, one of the gunmen — holding another Walgreens co-worker at gunpoint — jumped over the pharmacy counter, reportedly pointed his weapon at Hoven. Hoven say that he saw the man begin “jerking the gun’s trigger.” Armed with a licensed concealed gun, Hoven drew and fired shots at the robbers who fled.

He says that, a week later, he was fired for violating Walgreens’ “non-escalation policy” as well as a policy barring employees from carrying weapons while they work.

Hoven’s counsel has pointed to the below video of the incident showing an armed man dragging an employee through the store and then hopping over the pharmacy counter.

While it is common for lawyers to deny every fact in a complaint, you are not supposed to deny facts known to be true. The notes to Rule 11 state in part:

Denials of factual contentions involve somewhat different considerations. Often, of course, a denial is premised upon the existence of evidence contradicting the alleged fact. At other times a denial is permissible because, after an appropriate investigation, a party has no information concerning the matter or, indeed, has a reasonable basis for doubting the credibility of the only evidence relevant to the matter. A party should not deny an allegation it knows to be true; but it is not required, simply because it lacks contradictory evidence, to admit an allegation that it believes is not true.

It is not clear if this was a general denial or a specific denial in the answer.

Here is the video of the denied robbery:

Walgreens also denies that Hoven’s actions were the reason for his termination.

Source: Reuters

32 thoughts on “Armed Man Assaults Clerk, Hops Over Counter With Gun, Fires At Man . . . Walgreen Denies Armed Robbery In Progress

  1. So tell me this, how does the court deal with corporations/lawyers who deny basic facts that are proven out by the video?

  2. You don’t say….and Benton Harbor, Michigan has one of the highest Unemployment rates in the country….

    But then again, times must be hard in California….I am not sure where Pokey is, but Gumby had other ideals….maybe he too will be in the pokey….

  3. If they had a policy about no guns at work he is toast.

    A few years ago there was a small story about a pharmacy in a tough part of town that had been robbed twice. The owner got a gun & the story was on how he had foiled the latest attempt by shooting at the robber. He made the paper a couple of weeks later when he was shot to death by a guy that walked in, killed him without a word, emptied the till & walked out. I don’t recall they ever caught the guy.

  4. I can see firing a person who carries a loaded weapon at work, but denying that there was a robbery in progress is absurd.

  5. “Walgreens also denies that Hoven’s actions were the reason for his termination.” -Jonathan Turley

    I’d like to believe that there’s more to this than meets the eye. In this brave- new-world some things just aren’t what they seem to be… Something’s not right…

    We’re living in a “theater of the absurd” world…

  6. >non-escalation policy
    There is a difference between aggressing a shoplifter and stopping an armed robber who has already begun assaulting coworkers. The situation is already escalated. I don’t believe that a company should require an employee to submit to violent coercion or be terminated. Then again, the government already does this so I guess it’s another step towards corporate sovereignty.

    >policy barring employees from carrying weapons while they work
    Walgreens is by no means the only employer with such a requirement. It cuts the risk of accidents around the workplace, but so would better training for employees regarding loading and unloading trucks.

    This situation Could have gone horribly different if the robber had shot back. This situation Would have gone different if there hadn’t been an employee legally armed and trained in firearm use.

    My verdict:
    Sucks your getting fired Jeremy but that’s corporate policy, you know how it is.

  7. What’s even worse is that the two robbers could have just shot the two employees, taken everything in the store and Walgreen’s would have been okay anyway! Two less employees pay to deal with, the ability to boast that they “created” two new jobs (and probably at a lower pay rate than those of the deceased) by replacing them, and insured for the robbery and all the loss!

  8. I told this story in an August thread, so forgive me for telling it twice.

    As a college student, I was midnight manager of a convenience store. The company prohibited employee guns, but I kept a .38 revolver in a reinforced, deep back pants pocket. I’d never shoot a robber over $50, but I intended to protect myself.

    In the middle of the night, a tall man in a hooded parka came in and told me he had a gun in his jacket pocket. I opened the till and dropped $50 in coins and singles into a paper bag. When he looked into the bag, he said it wasn’t enough. I explained that I could only keep $50 and had to drop bills bigger than $5 into a floor safe. He told me to open it. I explained that I just dropped bills into a slot and didn’t have other access to the safe. He said he’d shoot me if he didn’t get $100.

    When I said I had no more than $50, he said, “Okay, let’s go to the cooler.” I wasn’t planning to go to the cooler. I said that I had three $20s in my wallet. He should have told me to turn around, so he could take my wallet, but he just said okay. I reached into my back pocket and gripped my .38. I hesitated before pulling it out, so that I wouldn’t hesitate when I pointed it at him. I resolved that I would shoot him. I pulled the gun, thumbed the hammer, and pointed at – – – nothing! He’d dropped to the floor.

    I scrambled onto the counter, ready to shoot him before he shot me. He was flat on his back, his hand in his right pocket. As I squeezed my trigger, he brought his bare hands out of his jacket pockets and screamed “Don’t shoot. I don’t have a gun!” I eased my finger off the trigger and aimed at the floor to the side of him. He kept telling me he would get up and walk out. I kept screaming that I’d shoot him. I kept him on the floor, until a customer walked in. The payphone was on a wall far removed from the cash register. When the police arrived, I pointed my gun at the ceiling until an officer told me to put it away. The robber was a 17-year-old high school junior. He was unarmed. He said he was only taking me to the cooler to lock me in it. (There was no lock.) Before he could be tried, a homeowner shot and killed him while he was stealing the homeowner’s car battery.

    I offered my resignation to the Store Representative when he came in at the start of the day shift manager’s tour. He asked why? I reminded him that I had a licensed but prohibited gun. He smiled and said that we’d get less robberies when the word got out.

    Instead of scaring robbers, the news just prepared them. Three young men walked in an grabbed my left hand. One said, “We know you’re packing, so we’ll hold your left hand until we rob you. Then we’ll cut you up and make ya ugly. My uncle had given me a barely-legal shortened .410 shotgun that I hid in the magazine rack behind me. I pulled it out with my right hand and asked if he wanted to remove his hand and keep it – or have me remove his hand and keep it. They left. Twice, they lunged at the front door, while I locked it with the interior thumb snap.

    In the morning, I definitely resigned. I took a job as an armed guard working midnights in a closed chemical plant. I walked a German Shepherd through the tank farms and distilling houses. If felt safer, and the German Shepherd admired me.

  9. @MASkeptic – I pack, so now you’ve put me in a quandry. If I approach a situation where someone is being robbed, I’ll have to ask, “Hey, is that you, MASkeptic?” because if it is, rules are rules, and my GL/E&O carrier might frown on me capping your robber’s ass. Sorry, bud, you know how it is…

  10. I refuse to shop at Walgreens after I was arrested for saying the word “bullshit” in reference to the manager’s comment that he was trying to help me. I had been a daily shopper until that night. I didn’t ultimately go to jail because having been a former Eckerd’s manager, I knew his job better than he did and explained the dilemma of sending me to jail for telling him that his comment was ‘bullshit’. I then named his 3 superiors who I already knew from other more positive interactions and he realized he had the wrong choice at hand. He told the arriving officer no further action was needed and then the security guard (an off duty officer) took the cuffs off. Walgreens…can kiss my ass. SOL has expired and ACLU of Texas never responded about the clear violations of my first amendment rights by these jerks. The overall manager profusely apologized but still didn’t see the big picture.
    Thanks for the post, JT.

  11. in reference to another company, now defunct in the music operations…I was robbed at gunpoint while a manager for a national music chain. after the robbery, I was asked what I needed by HR and said, “well we need cameras for sure!” Had I been able to see the doors leading to the back offices before leaving, likely I’d have seen this guy coming back to rob us.
    I was told cameras would be a good idea and they’d pass that along.
    I had already been a remodeling manager before this job and knew lots about how to retrofit buildings with camera systems if you had the will to do so.
    I got the call…”cameras won’t be getting installed due to costs…”

    (silence for almost a minute)
    “Hello…” she said…
    “Let me be real clear…if I get robbed again because I can’t see the floor from here…I promise I’ll make them kill me. Are we clear? how dare you or anyone tell me that my suggestion of at least 2 cameras to see fore and aft are…too expensive when I can go do it myself for $200 or so. I’m not worth $200? my employees aren’t worth $200?”

    24hrs later a crew was marking x’s on the wall for 4 cameras and drilling wiring to the office to get it fixed up. I quit about 3 months later and the company imploded about 3 years later. The guy who robbed me…never heard of it again….

  12. What does it mean for the shooter to say he saw someone “jerking the gun’s trigger”?

    Remember, the pharmacist didn’t just bring a gun into work (an issue in and of itself), he didn’t just draw that gun, he fired shots inside the store.

    We can all be outraged that this “hero” is being fired for what appear to be perfectly fire-able violations of his employer’s policies, but this could have turned out very differently.

    Instead we could all be expressing our outrage at a dangerous gun-nut as we watch a video of a robbery in progress, where the pharmacist pulls his gun, fires several shots in the direction of the robber…. and instead, hits a little old lady quietly shuffling through the store… or we switch to the parking lot camera where those shots hit someone getting out of his car…

    The difference between heroics and stupidity is the outcome.

  13. The problem as I see it is this, if a person points a gun at you or is brandishing it, you can never let them get you into a position where you are helpless. Once you are completely subdued you are at the mercy of the gun bearer and the odds are likely it won’t end well for you. This is true of store robbery’s, people trying to get you into a car and of home invasions.

    To me the odds are better to try to remain free, than to follow
    a weapon bearer’s orders. This could mean that you might have to risk getting shot and hope the person can’t shoot straight. Having spent a lot of my work life in purportedly dangerous areas, this is something I’ve put thought into. Luckily, I’ve never had to tempt fate. I don’t carry a gun precisely because too many situations can go bad with one. However, if I
    did I probably would have done what he did. Of course talk is cheap.

  14. The year was 1981. Connie Ray Evans went into a convenience store near the campus of Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Arun Pahwah was the store clerk. Evans made Pahway kneel down and beg for his life. It is on the store security camera video. While Arun Pahwah was on his knees begging for his life, Connie Ray Evans pointed his pistol at Pahwah’s head and executed him.

    The State of Mississippi put Evans to death in the gas chamber at Parchman Penitentiary in 1987.

    I have seen that tape in the evidence file. Connie Ray Evans was one of the most cold-blooded psychopaths I have ever met. That security tape is graphic proof of Mike Spindell’s observation above that you must never allow yourself to be put in a truly vulnerable position or taken hostage during an armed robbery.

  15. Wouldn’t it be nice if Walgreens admitted their 24 hour stores are at risk for robberies and hired armed, trained security guards so the pharmacist didn’t have to violate corporate policy to protect his own life?

    I don’t see how they can deny this clear case of attempted robbery, but I am sure they have every right to fire the pharmacist based on their policy.

    The situation could have taken a turn for the worse…it has happened before.

  16. MadAsHell,

    Tell the rest of the story….The first shot was justified….I will agree with that…The remaining 5 bullets pumped into him as the criminal laid wounded on the floor were not….

    (CBS/KWTV/AP) – OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City pharmacist now faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after being found guilty of murder for the death of a 16-year-old who tried to rob his store.

    Confronted by two holdup men in May 2009, Ersland pulled out a gun, shot one of them in the head and chased the other away. The drugstore’s security camera then filmed Ersland as he went behind the counter, got another gun, and pumped five more bullets into the wounded Antwun Parker as he lay on the floor.

    Judge Ray Elliott refused to lift the gag order so the prosecution, the defense, and the jury are not allowed to comment on the verdict. But we do know the jury had asked to see the surveillance video of the robbery and shooting one more time before they went up to deliberate.

    The would be robber survived….another thing, the pharmacist is a Vet….Lt. C….

  17. I was simply attempting to point out that, in these situations, cool heads do not always prevail and lives can be ruined in an instant. I agree that pumping bullets into the wounded man was unjustified. If the man was no longer a threat, the police could have taken him into custody and that story would have had a different ending.

  18. problem is a wound guy is not a disabled guy. It does not take much strength to pull a trigger. You better make sure he is dead. The police made a very large mistake years ago when they switched to 9mm hand guns. The round is not very good at ‘stopping’ a person, not nearly as good as their old.38/.357. It might take a few rounds to complete the task if you chose a weak tool. But the point is if you have shot him you probably should go ahead and finish the job and you better understand exactly what that means before you start carrying.

  19. You know Frankly,

    I think if the first shot had killed the would be robber…The out come would have been totally different. I think because he retrieved (playing 13th Juror) the second weapon and proceeded to pump 5 more rounds in him….that takes it to a little different level….

    I think the controlling case for Police Officers to escape liability for Murder is they may not use Deadly force to apprehend a fleeing felon….and they may use Deadly force to save or defend the life of another or their own….

    I think the key case is TN v Garner…But it may be changed a little since another case called Harris and the Officers use of a vehicle to apprehend a fleeing felon….causing death or injury….that I recall was ruled in 07’…..

  20. “While Arun Pahwah was on his knees begging for his life, Connie Ray Evans pointed his pistol at Pahwah’s head and executed him.”


    Thank you, good example of what I’m thinking. There have been so many instances throughout the years in publicized stories where once a person cedes control they’re dead. Begging for one’s life with someone
    who is probably either psychopathic, or dumb, gets you nowhere most often. I’ve always been bemused by crime movies where someone holds a gun on a person as they dig their own grave. If you can be 99% certain that someone will kill you and you’ve got a potentially lethal weapon in your hand, why not go down swinging?

  21. Begging for one’s life with someone who is probably either psychopathic, or dumb, gets you nowhere most often. -Mike Spindell

    …why not go down swinging? -Mike Spindell


    Excellent “take-away” points…

  22. @Junctionshamus

    Please don’t misunderstand. I think it’s a foolish rule designed to reduce corporate liability at the expense of employee safety. I’m just don’t think he has much of a case given the pro-business stance of the courts post Bush.

    I’d like to preanswer your example with:
    DO: Shoot to kill the armed robber while following proper gun safety procedures.
    DO NOT: “Do him execution style” if he’s lying on the ground bleeding out afterwards

    I’m a strong supporter of guns in the hands of well-trained law abiding citizens. This guy should be getting a “thank you” from the company and the police. Sadly I’m cynical enough to know that won’t happen.

  23. @MASkeptic – My brain and trigger finger would say disable, disarm. My heart would say, “Take a break before reloading.”

    Looks like I might not have to cap your robber; you sound like a DIY-guy.

    You discern many truths in an otherwise imperfect world. Damned if you do (liability if your employee misses) and damned if you don’t (stress claims to dead customers); no winners in an arm-chair scenario, even fewer when the event takes place. The best scenario if you will, is to have such a policy, but issue your administrative verdict after reviewing the totality of the circumstances.

  24. @Junctionshamus
    >The best scenario if you will, is to have such a policy, but issue your administrative verdict after reviewing the totality of the circumstances.

    This should be the unspoken rider on every law and policy. The problem is that you don’t know who would be doing the reviewing.

  25. “If the man was no longer a threat, the police could have taken him into custody and that story would have had a different ending.”

    Like he’d sue shooter?

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