United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
HOPE ANGELIC WHITE, et al. Plaintiffs,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hope Angelic White brings this action individually and in her
capacity as personal representative for the Estate of her
decedent, Myron Pollard, against defendants the United States
of America and Bernard Hansen, an agent with the United
States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
(“ATF”). The litigation pertained to defendant
Hansen's fatal shooting of Pollard on August 29, 2012.
Plaintiff, as personal representative of the estate of
Pollard, brought a claim under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named
Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for
the use of excessive force against Pollard, which was tried
before a jury July 23-27, 2018. The jury found in favor of
defendant. Plaintiff also presented a claim under the Federal
Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) for wrongful death,
which was tried simultaneously before this Court. The parties
submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on
plaintiff's FTCA claim on December 10, 2018.
considered the pleadings, trial testimony, exhibits, and
proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law submitted
by the parties, the Court hereby makes and enters the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law with regard
to Count I against the United States and in accordance with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a).
is an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.
§§ 2671 et seq., arising out of the death of Myron
Pollard as a result of an officer-involved shooting that
occurred during an undercover arrest in St. Louis, Missouri
on August 29, 2012.
Plaintiff Hope Angelic White resides St. Louis, Missouri and
is the mother of Myron Pollard.
Myron Pollard, a citizen of the United States of America, was
an individual who resided in St. Louis, Missouri.
Plaintiff Hope Angelic White is the duly appointed personal
representative of the Estate of Myron Pollard, deceased, in
the Probate Division of the Circuit Court of the City of St.
August 29, 2012, Defendant Bernard Hansen was employed by the
United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
Explosives as a Special Agent.
August 29, 2012, Defendant Bernard Hansen was acting in the
course and scope of his employment as a Special Agent for the
United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
August 29, 2012, Defendant Bernard Hansen was acting under
color of federal law.
all times relevant, Myron Pollard was a passenger sitting in
the front passenger seat of a car that was being driven by
Defendant Bernard Hansen fired three shots from his
ATF-assigned rifle; one of these shots struck Myron Pollard
in the head and fatally wounded him.
Special Agent David Hall fired three baton rounds from his
ATF-assigned less lethal SL-6 weapon.
Myron Pollard was pronounced dead on August 30, 2012 at 2:06
a.m. as a result of a fatal gunshot wound to his head.
Leading up to August 29, 2012
mid-August of 2012, a reliable confidential informant
contacted ATF special agent (“SA”) Chris Wiegner
about a suspect named Arlando Quarles who was believed to be
committing violent crimes around St. Louis.
After receiving this information from Quarles, the ATF agent
arranged a meeting between SA Toby Gettler (who was working
in an undercover capacity), the confidential informant, and
Quarles. During this meeting, SA Gettler posed as a
disgruntled narcotics courier who wanted to rob a drug stash
Gettler met with Quarles and other suspects on three more
occasions to confirm that they were willing to commit the
fictitious robbery. During one of the meetings, Quarles and
another suspect told SA Gettler that they planned to kill the
occupants inside the drug stash house during the armed
Through the confidential informant, SA Wiegner learned that
the suspects also planned to kill SA Gettler and take his
share of the drugs after the fictitious robbery.
Wiegner requested the assistance of ATF's Special
Response Team (“SRT”) with the arrest of the
suspects because the SRT members had more training in
arresting suspects during the course of home invasion robbery
operations and had access to more gear and weapons than the
regular ATF field agents.
is similar to a Special Weapons and Tactics
(“SWAT”) team; the SRT members train to assist
the field agents with high-risk events, like arrests at the
conclusion of home invasion operations such as this one.
August 2012, SA Hansen was a full-time SRT member.
About a week before the operation, SA Hansen and other SRT
members were asked to assist with the arrest portion of this
After consulting with SRT, SA Gettler and SA Wiegner
scheduled the final meeting with the suspects (i.e., the
arrest) to occur on August 29, 2012.
Pollard was not known to the ATF agents, including SA Hansen,
prior to August 29, 2012.
Wiegner held a pre-operational briefing for the SRT and
provided them with background information about the case and
the operational plan, which usually includes a discussion of
the tactical plan and how the takedown would occur, personnel
assignments and contingencies, the use of force policies, and
emergency driving policies.
briefing occurred at approximately 8:00 a.m. on August 29,
2012 and was the first time that SA Hansen was briefed about
During the briefing, SA Hansen learned that the suspects were
supposed to bring firearms to the final stage of the
undercover operation and that the undercover agent had
received information that the suspects were planning to kill
him following the robbery.
Wiegner believed that SRT needed to know that the suspects
told the confidential informant that they were going to
murder the undercover agent and the people in the stash house
because it heightened the agents' awareness of the
likelihood that guns would be present during the arrest.
Hansen testified that home invasions are one of the most
high-risk operations with which SRT assists. Once SA Hansen
learned that the suspects planned to kill the undercover
agent, that raised the risk in his opinion.
Wiegner testified that in his experience, it is common for
unknown suspects to show up on the day of the operation. In
order to plan for this, they have several contingencies in
place, such as blocking vehicles and less-lethal options, but
SA Wiegner acknowledged that, “we can only plan for so
much and can't anticipate everything that [the suspects]
plan for the final meeting was to have SA Gettler drive a
U-Haul truck, with the SRT members secreted in the back, into
a parking lot to meet the suspects, confirm their willingness
to commit the armed robbery, and then arrest the suspects.
During the briefing, SA Hansen and the other SRT members
discussed the possibility of the suspects' car reversing
at them; however, they could not plan for when the driver
would “hit the gas” and would have to figure out
their reactions “on the fly.” SA Hansen explained
that in general they “discuss the various variables and
 train to various variables when they occur, ” but as
far as “every minute-second detail when it's going
to go, you can't practice that, per se.”
morning of the briefing, the SRT also did a test run or
rehearsal of the arrest in the parking lot of a hotel, with
the goal of “ensuring that the back of the U-Haul gate
was able to get manipulated in a proper manner so the team
wouldn't get stuck inside.”
could not run the rehearsal in the parking lot where the
arrest was scheduled to occur, however, because the parking
lot “was in close proximity to Mr. Quarles.” SA
Justin Meyer, the SRT Team Leader, testified that Quarles or
other individuals could have seen them during the rehearsals,
which would have compromised the investigation.
this operation, SA Hansen was assigned to be the number one
arrest team person, meaning that he was the first SRT member
to jump out of the back of the U-Haul.
Hansen explained that the first SRT member out of the
“stack” is responsible for identifying the
threats, announcing “Police, ” getting to his
predetermined position while engaging the suspects, and
providing protection for the other SRT members who are
“jumping out blind.”
34. SA Hansen described the other SRT members as jumping out
of the U-Haul blind because of the U-Haul's position.
When they exited, they would have to turn to their left to
see the suspects' car, orientate themselves, and move
into their predetermined positions.
Immediately upon jumping out, SA Hansen's plan was to
announce their presence and move across the rear of the
suspects' car so he could see its passenger side.
everything had gone according to the plan, the SRT members
would have formed an L-shape allowing them to cover both the
white van and the suspects' car.
After the pre-operational briefing, SA Gettler drove the
U-Haul to the arrest location, with SA Hansen and seven or
eight other ATF agents in the back.
Gettler parked the U-Haul in the parking lot. There was also
a white van parked in the lot, which SA Gettler had told the
suspects that he was providing to them to conduct the
white van was parked perpendicular to a wall and there was an
empty space to its right, which the agents assumed was where
the suspects would park their car when they arrived.
While waiting in the back of the U-Haul, SA Hansen heard over
his earpiece that two suspects had arrived on foot and then
that a dark sedan, which was occupied by multiple people,
arrived in the parking lot and had pulled in next to the
While in the back of the U-Haul, SA Hansen could not see
outside into the parking lot and did not know exactly where
all the suspects were located, though he had an idea of their
positions based on the pre-operational briefing.
Gettler confirmed that each person inside the suspects'
car was ready to commit the robbery and then faked a
telephone call, which was the “bust signal”
indicating that the SA Meyer should direct the SRT members to
deploy from the U-Haul and arrest the suspects.
After hearing the command “Initiate, Initiate,
Initiate” over his earpiece, SA Hansen jumped out of
the U-Haul and yelled multiple times something to the effect
of, “Police. Let me see your hands.”
the diversionary flashbang devices deployed, SA Hansen was
heading to his pre-deployment position off the back of the
Hansen estimated that it took him “three-some seconds
or approximately a couple seconds” to get to the point
where he saw the lights on back of the suspects' car turn
first time that SA Hansen saw the suspects' car was when
he jumped out of the U-Haul.
At that time, the suspects' car was parked with its front
end pointed toward the wall, approximately 21 feet, or 7
yards, from SA Hansen.
Hansen heard the engine rev and then he saw the reverse
lights turn on.
Hansen testified that he “remember[s] very
vividly” that he said to himself something to the
effect of “oh, f**k me, no” because he knew what
was going to happen next. He thought that he or the SRT
members “were going to get run over” by the
Hansen thought the suspects' car was going to run over
them because they were in close proximity to the
suspects' car and the car had to move backward in order
to get out of the parking spot.
When SA Hansen saw that the suspects' car was reversing,
he “felt like [the driver] had slammed on the gas and
the vehicle was coming at [him] like as fast as it would
Hansen described everything as happening instantaneously. He
testified that, “I mean, I'm running, I'm
going, and then it's like, oh no, the lights are coming
on. You know what's going to happen next. You are praying
the car doesn't come. The car comes. I bring my rifle up,
I take it off of ...