ATLANTA , GA – A video released by the VA on Tuesday shows a brutal attack on a 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran by a man identified as a patient advocate at the clinic at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.
The Department of Veterans Affairs security video shows veteran Phillip Webb on April 28 being choked, slammed to the ground, stomped and kicked in the head.
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
The video begins with Webb in a waiting room, briefly engaged in a discussion with an employee who points his finger in Webb’s face. Webb swats the finger away and the employee grabs Webb’s hands, pushes him across the room, chokes him, slams him to the ground, presses his foot onto his neck and then kicks him in the head.
Lawrence Gaillard Jr., a patient advocate at the clinic, has been identified by the VA as the employee. He was arrested the day of the beating and charged with felony assault.
Webb was treated by a doctor at the clinic for injuries that included a large hematoma near his right eye and scrapes on his elbow, according to the charge sheet from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia.
He was transferred to Atlanta Medical Center, a civilian facility, and hospitalized for three days for a brain bleed, according to WSB-TV, the news station that reported the beating in May.
The Department of Veterans Affairs police responded to the attack, it reported.
At the time, the TV station repeatedly asked for an incident or police report on the attack, which the VA refused.
WSB’s Investigative Reporter Justin Gray had to file a Freedom of Information Act request and wait more than a month and a half to get the surveillance video, which arrived this week.
Webb told the station he was at the clinic for an appointment to discuss an upcoming hernia surgery.
Webb said while waiting to speak with someone, he knocked on an office door to tell the VA employee he was going to the restroom. He said the man inside charged out of the office and seconds later hit him in the head. Webb told the station:
“He said, ‘Man, I’ll go upside your head.’ I said, ‘No, you won’t,’ [and] that’s the last thing I remember. I’m still trying to figure out why he hit me.”
On Monday, Gray showed Webb the video of the moment he was assaulted but Webb said he doesn’t remember much about the attack. When the Vietnam veteran regained consciousness, he said, police and paramedics were there. Webb said:
“All this happened in a short time. I didn’t even get a chance to tell him I was going to the bathroom because he came out angry.”
The Atlanta VA Health Care System, which would not say whether Gaillard is still employed by the VA and referred all questions to VA headquarters, released a statement Tuesday saying the department was horrified by the video. VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said:
“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.”
Gaillard was released on $10,000 bond on the initial charges, which were filed in federal court. In the past few days, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped the charges because of jurisdictional issues and turned it over to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose office is now leading the investigation, according to WSB-TV.
Louisiana disabled veteran fired for defending herself after assault by shoplifter at work
January 22, 2022
LAFAYETTE, LA – An Academy Sports + Outdoors store manager who was assaulted by a shoplifter has been fired for fighting back despite being a longtime excellent employee and a disabled military veteran.
Not shopping at Academy anymore.
Hot 107.9: Disabled Vet in Viral Video Fired from Lafayette Academy Store.https://t.co/5Go1ZbjkF0
— Rob Cavanaugh🇺🇸(He/Him) (@CavanaughRj) January 20, 2022
On January 10, another store employee alerted the unidentified store manager of a woman with a cart full of merchandise heading for the exit. The manager confronted the woman, and the woman attacked, according to the video.
The thief first attempted to strike the manager with a large backpack she grabbed from a nearby clothing display. The woman then tried to run around the manager, and the heroic employee grabbed the pack from the criminal.
After a brief struggle over the bag, the shoplifter punched the manager in the face. After quickly brushing off the punch, the manager pulled the pack from the woman.
The woman then turned and headed for the door, apparently without any of the products she allegedly attempted to steal.
The manager and other employees followed behind the woman, and the manager warned the woman not to return to the store or she would be arrested.
The manager suffered a cut to her mouth during the confrontation. No one else was injured. After cleaning up her bleeding wound, the manager immediately reported the incident to her supervisor and to Lafayette police.
The video of the incident went viral on social media like Instagram, and about a week after the incident, the dedicated employee and national hero was terminated by Academy Sports.
The store, like many retail establishments recently, has a policy that thieves should be able to walk out of stores with products without being challenged or confronted by employees.
According to a source who spoke with local radio station HOT107.9, the dedicated employee and national hero feels she has been fired for defending herself:
“While our source tells me that she fully understands the rules in place and that any bad publicity for a business will lead to them finding a way to remove you, the toughest part for the former Academy manager to live with is that she feels that she remained calm and professional until she was forced to defend herself.
“It was also a hard pill to swallow being that she was let go for breaking policy when other employees break policy and aren’t always terminated for it.”
The former manager served Academy Sports + Outdoors for almost 10 years and has by all accounts been an outstanding employee. She has worked for the retail outlet in various stores across three different states over the years.
The heroic former employee also served in the U.S. Army, where she was medically discharged after suffering a shoulder injury.
The criminal assailant has not been identified by police and no arrests have been made.
Each year, nearly $47 billion worth of goods are shoplifted nationwide. Tom Geiger, communications director at UFCW 21, which represents many union retail workers, explained:
“All the employees, at least at the grocery stores that we represent, the big grocery stores as well as a lot of the independents, the policies are generally do not intervene. Do not become the security cop.”
Police responded to the 900 block of Palmer Aly NW at 7:03pm for the report of multiple individuals entering an establishment & unlawfully taking property. At this time, it is being classified as a Theft and there are no injuries reported. #MPD pic.twitter.com/sQx4VqPTHP
— Allison Papson (@AllisonPapson) January 20, 2022
The hands-off approach has been feeding a growing trend with criminals, who have learned the reality of the policy; they can steal without punishment.
Thefts and smash-and-grab looters have struck stores across the country throughout 2021, robbing thousands of stores of merchandise.
In suburban Minneapolis, for example, a large group of at least 30 people targeted a Best Buy in Burnsville, while a group of 10-12 people, including juveniles, targeted another Best Buy in Maplewood.
In Washington state, the Washington Retail Association advocated for a bill this past legislative session that would have allowed employees to detain suspects inside stores, rather than wait for them to leave the premises, as state law now dictates.
Called “The Concealment Bill,” it would have allowed employees to detain anyone once they see them conceal an item.
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