WATCH: Disturbing Video Shows Atlanta VA Employee Beating Vietnam Veteran
Disturbing surveillance video appears to show an elderly Vietnam War veteran being slammed into a wall, choked, thrown to the ground, and kicked in the head by a Department of Veterans Affairs employee in Atlanta, Georgia.
The video was obtained this week by WSB-TV reporter Justin Gray, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the surveillance footage more than a month and a half ago.
The alleged attack happened on April 28 at the Fort McPherson VA clinic. Vietnam veteran Phillip Webb, 73, told Gray he was at the clinic to discuss scheduling a hernia surgery.
In the video, Webb is seen sitting in a room by himself before he knocks on the door to the waiting room. A man identified as VA patient advocate Lawrence Gaillard enters the room, and the two appear to start arguing, although it’s not clear what caused the conflict. Webb appears to wave a piece of paper in front of Gaillard’s face. Gaillard responds by putting his finger in Webb’s face, and Webb slaps it away.
That’s when Gaillard appears to push Webb back, slamming him against the wall. Then he throws Webb over a chair and onto the floor, before stomping the veteran’s head once, pausing, and kicking him in the head again. The entire attack lasts about 10 seconds before Gaillard picks something up off the floor and exits the room.
I've obtained by FOIA surveillance video of the brutal beating of elderly Vietnam vet by a VA employee at an Atlanta VA clinic. @2Investigates was 1st to report on the attack last month. The attacker, Lawrence Gaillard is still employed by VA. @wsbtv at 6https://t.co/oLCyCNa8ea pic.twitter.com/A87YTvSK2q— Justin Gray (@JustinGrayWSB) June 20, 2022
“He was Mike Tyson-ing me there,” Webb told WSB-TV as he watched the surveillance video.
VA police arrested Gaillard, then turned him over to US Marshals. He was originally charged in federal court with assault, but that charge was dismissed on May 23 because of jurisdictional issues, according to court documents, and the case has now been turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney.
A doctor at the clinic evaluated Webb for a large hematoma over his right eyebrow and a contusion to his elbow, then had Webb transported by ambulance to a local hospital, according to court documents. Webb was hospitalized with a brain bleed for three days after the attack, WSB-TV reported.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough called Gaillard’s actions “abhorrent” when asked about the attack during a press conference Wednesday, June 22, and emphasized that his behavior is “not reflective of VA employees across the country at all.”
“On behalf of VA, I apologize to that veteran and that veteran’s family,” McDonough said. “This is behavior that’s contrary to our core values.”
Gaillard is still employed by the VA but has been “indefinitely suspended without pay,” a spokesperson for the Atlanta VA Health Care System told Coffee or Die Magazine Thursday in an email.
“We are horrified at the video of a VA employee assaulting a Veteran at the Atlanta VA Health Care System on April 28,” reads the email statement provided to Coffee or Die. “We take this matter seriously and will continue to cooperate fully with the Fulton County law enforcement investigation.”