Startling surveillance video purports to show a Department of Veterans Affairs patient advocate allegedly grabbing an elderly veteran by the neck, throwing him to the floor, and stomping him twice.
“He was Mike Tyson-ing me there,” the victim claimed.
Based on the 30-second clip, and there may be additional, as-yet-undisclosed facts and recordings to follow, it appears that the victim may have made first contact with the VA worker with his left hand. Whether that justified the alleged beatdown that followed is another matter entirely.
According to CBS Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV, which got hold of the video obtained by its investigative reporter Justin Gray through a Freedom of Information Act request after a month-and-a-half waiting period, the victim, 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran Phillip Webb, suffered a brain bleed in the attack which required three days of hospitalization.
The employee at the Fort McPherson military base in Atlanta was reportedly arrested for felony assault and subsequently bonded out, but as of Monday was reportedly still on the job, presumably owing to public sector labor union procedures. His job status may have since changed, however.
He faces charges in Fulton County court after the case was transferred from federal jurisdiction.
the person blurred out by the VA in that surveillance video is this man, Lawrence Gaillard. A "patient advocate" at the VA. He was initially charged in federal court by the US Attorney, but @wsbtv has learned the case has been turned over to Fulton County DA Fanni Willis pic.twitter.com/lw2lKKHXb4
— Justin Gray (@JustinGrayWSB) June 20, 2022
“Webb said he knocked on the door in the waiting room to let [the patient advocate] know he was going to the bathroom. He was waiting to discuss scheduling hernia surgery,” WSB explained. “I guess he got upset because I hit at his door,” Webb theorized.
“For them to let him come back to work, that’s dangerous,” he added.
The VA issued a statement about the disturbing incident: “We are horrified at the video of a V.A. employee assaulting a Veteran at the Atlanta VA Health Care System on April 28. This disturbing behavior is contrary to our core values of treating Veterans with the dignity and respect they deserve. We take this matter seriously and will cooperate fully with Fulton County law enforcement.”
In an update, the military news website Task & Purpose reported on Thursday that, according to a VA spokesman, “The employee has been indefinitely suspended without pay. The indefinite suspension is in place and we are unable to comment further as the matter remains under investigation.”
The armchair sleuths on Twitter are opining on this disturbing incident. Here is just a sample of the debate:
The employee was pointing, the gentleman hit his hand first and it escalated. It was not just that the man started hitting him.
— Vanessa Walker (@thehappyscience) June 20, 2022
Unfortunately, the guy will continue to stay employed several months to a year if he fights the dismissal. Seen it during my Federal career, 2 folks staying at home collecting a paycheck for just over 14 months while waiting a hearing. Right after the hearing they were gone thou
— Dave Fellows (@DaveFellows5) June 21, 2022
The video clearly shows the old man attacking first.
— 🇻🇮🇻🇮Junior🇩🇴🇻🇮 (@EJayMD11ER) June 20, 2022
His hand was pushed away from his face…I wouldn’t call that being attacked. Also, the person you say the patient “attacked ” is a Patient Advocate, someone trained and licensed to deal with upset patients.
— Rondmc79 (@rondmc79) June 22, 2022
That is elder abuse. Why isn’t Adult Protective Services involved? BTW it is Elder Abuse Awareness month. People need to report suspected (or in this case, blatant) abuse or neglect to local authorities. There is no nat’l #, but every state has a hotline.
— featherplus (@featherplus68) June 21, 2022
At first I could not tell who was the aggressor. It appears the veteran attacked the VA employee. I am a veteran and that was inappropriate for the veteran to put him hands on an employee. What it it was a female employee and she got hurt. He needed a family member with him.
— Sherelle (@Sherell16520183) June 23, 2022
Swatting a finger in your face away does not constitute being shoved against a wall, thrown on the floor and kicked in the head, twice. If he can’t be fired then the family needs to hire a lawyer and sue in civil court.
— Peg (@a_cold_rain) June 22, 2022
It’s no excuse what so ever to put you hands on this older man! If he started it report it to your supervisor and be professional! As a retired combat veteran this really makes me very upset!
— Jeff (@Jolaw0928) June 21, 2022
VA employee is a patient advocate That alone makes him guilty of assault! When your job is to help others you have to be ready to take verbal abuse and finger pointing junk Or get other employment No different than if you cuss at a police you ok with him kicking your ass too
— Not Guilty 🤔 I Called Larry 😂 (@philkillerlain) June 22, 2022
This is upsetting to watch on so many levels. How can anyone treat a 73 y/o man like that? But just an FYI, It’s very rare that we see incidents such as this. Its more common for providers to be assaulted by pts. And there’s probably more to this story that we’re not privy to.
— Bruno’s Auntie (@Patti70818799) June 22, 2022
Violence on healthcare workers is common place. Patients come in to be seen at what may be one of their most vulnerable moments. They’re tired, frustrated and healthcare workers are the same. Both of them were wrong. Bein sick isnt an excuse to act up n neither is finger pointing
— Kenny Monsters (@MonstersKenny) June 22, 2022
Why not show the video at 5 seconds before this when the Vet instigated physical contact? This is skewed and both parties handled it wrong.
— Derek M. (@AUBgrunt) June 22, 2022
Doesn’t matter who attacked first. He left an elderly person on the floor, took a kick at him and walked away. Not an employee of the month look.
— Mindy Bressert (@MBressert) June 23, 2022
There are 2 different ways to look at this. 1st off the man put his hand on the employee who had the right to defend himself, but 2nd, the employee took it way beyond self defense. He could have and should have stopped way sooner.
— andrew breese (@albreese84) June 22, 2022
VA care is not free. It cost a lot of people a huge sacrifice. I love my VA clinic in Bakersfield and no…it’s not free. Neither is freedom. How dare you say it’s free.
— Kevin Payton (@KevinPa73664437) June 21, 2022
All suspects are presumed innocent until or unless they are convicted in a court of law of any alleged crimes.
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