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VCU names company that provided guard involved in deadly altercation

Posted at 6:36 PM, Aug 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-11 18:36:14-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Four days after Philip Whitaker died as a result of an alleged altercation with a security guard inside of VCU's Ambulatory Care Center, VCU identified the company which provided the guard.

The security firm LEW & Associates Inc. is located on Westwood Avenue office in Richmond.

Richmond Police said Whitaker, 64, was pronounced dead Sunday, two days after the incident with the guard, who has not been identified. Charges are expected to be filed against the man, according to police.

Joana Suarez saw Whitaker lying on the pharmacy floor Friday, but she did not see the actual altercation.

Moments earlier she had heard his name called over the loudspeaker.

The family said this was the second time he was called back up, because he needed to correct an issue with his prescription.

"They called his name said come pick up your medicine, come wait at the back of the line," Suarez recalled.

"He [a witness] said, 'Oh, Philip didn’t want to wait at the back of the line, and he told the guard and there was a problem there and that’s where the guard tackled him down,'" Suarez said. "He should have still been alive."

LEW & Associates Inc. has been contracted by VCU Health system for various security services for more than seven years, according to spokesperson Pam Lepley.

Security guards are posted at several locations around the medical campus, primarily to monitor smokers outside of the hospital, Lepley said.

LEW and other security firms contracted through VCU are certified by the State Department of Criminal Justice system, which includes background checks.

All security officers go through VCU's security department orientation before taking their assignments, Lepley said. A current copy of each security officer's certification is maintained by the health system.

"Philip may not have wanted to go to the back of the line, but [the guard] had to understand him, comprehend him, be on his side, be like you know what it’s ok, your turn will come up soon, just wait at the back of the line, there’s no need to tackle him and all that happened,” Suarez said.
Patients said that often they have to wait in long lines for prescriptions.

The pharmacy is appropriately staffed, Lepley said. And added that wait times depend on the volume and patient needs and medical conditions.

The LEW & Associates office was locked and no one available for comment. An office manager at another business in the building said they rarely see anyone in the office.

The incident was captured on surveillance video inside the pharmacy. Police asked anyone who may have witnessed the assault to call investigators at 804-646-0400.