The Atlanta Department of Veterans Department finally takes action after “Channel 2 Investigates” aired a disturbing video of a VA employee assaulting an elderly veteran.
Channel 2 consumer researcher Justin Gray first shared the story of the attack, first sharing the video, which shows employee Lawrence Gaillard pushing the 73-year-old veteran against a door, then throwing him to the ground by the neck and putting him in his arms. head. The attack took place on April 28 at a VA office in Fort McPherson.
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The victim, Phillip Webb, suffered a brain haemorrhage that was so bad that he no longer remembers the attack.
Gaillard is now suspended, but it took nearly two months for the VA to act.
Gray tried for a month and a half to get his hands on the video, but it wasn’t until after the story aired on Channel 2 Action News that Gaillard was eventually suspended without pay.
US Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, is now commenting on the video.
“You know, I watched that video and it’s heartbreaking,” McDonough said. “It is abhorrent the behavior depicted there. On behalf of the VA, I apologize to that veteran.”
In the video, Webb sat in the waiting room before knocking on Gaillard’s door to let him know he was going to the bathroom. When Gaillard came out, the men had a brief argument before Gaillard attacked Webb, pushing him against a wall before putting both hands around Webb’s neck and hitting him with the body.
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“He would help me,” Webb said. “He was Mike-Tysoning me.”
Gray said it’s another example of the Atlanta VA waiting to act after evidence has gone public due to an investigation by Channel 2 Action News.
In an audit in April, the VA inspector general found that Atlanta VA leaders had known for months about pallets containing 17,000 mail items piling up in a VA basement, but only acted to solve the problem after a joint Channel 2 Action News and Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation revealed that.
McDonough said the VA is now working with the Fulton County District Attorney in Gaillard’s case.
“This is behavior that goes against our core values at the VA,” McDonough said.
Gaillard was originally charged in federal court by the US attorney, but those charges have been dropped over jurisdictional issues. The case is now in the hands of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.