ATLANTA — A Fulton County grand jury has returned a 6-count felony indictment against the Department of Veterans employee who attacked an elderly veteran at an Atlanta VA clinic in the spring.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray first broke the story of the April 28 attack and first obtained the surveillance video of the attack through a Freedom Information Act request.
Now Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis tells Gray that the alleged attacker, Lawrence Gaillard, is facing two decades behind bars if convicted of the charges.
“We’re talking about serious time. A minimum 20 years,” Willis said.
The charges include aggravated battery, aggravated assault and abuse of an elderly person.
The April 28 incident started when Vietnam Veteran Phillip Webb, 73, knocked on Gaillard’s office door. Gaillard was a patient advocate at the VA.
“The fact that someone was entrusted to care for him and treat him like this, it is completely offensive,” Willis said.
Webb said he knocked on the door in the waiting room to let Gaillard know he was going to the bathroom. He was waiting to discuss scheduling hernia surgery.
In the surveillance video, the two men appear to have a brief argument and Gaillard puts his finger up to Webb’s face.
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When Webb tries to push it away, Gaillard charges, shoving him against the wall, choking him with both hands around his neck, then body-slamming the elderly veteran to the ground, where he stomps on his head. He then kicks Webb in the head a second time.
“I guess he got upset because I hit at his door,” Webb told Gray.
Webb was hospitalized for three days with a brain bleed.
“He was Mike Tyson-ing me there,” Webb said. “I’m just stunned. I don’t know what to say.”
Willis said Gaillard fled the state after his initial arrest. Her office will be asking a Superior Court judge to not allow bond in the case.
“We had difficulty tracking him down. We had to get several agencies involved. We were unable to locate him for some time period,” Willis said.
As for why it took more than three months for the indictment, there were jurisdictional issues that had to be worked out.
Gaillard was first charged in federal court. Those charges were dropped after it was determined it should be a state, not federal case.
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