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Whitaker family screams as security guard granted ‘low’ bond

Posted at 2:05 PM, Aug 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-21 18:19:41-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- On Friday the security guard charged with involuntary manslaughter of a Henrico man made a court appearance shortly after turning himself into police.

George Brown's bond was set at $15,000 because the judge believed he was not a flight risk. He said Brown is a "stable person" with "deep ties to the community."

The 67-year-old former security guard is represented by defense attorney Craig Cooley. Brown formerly served in the Marine Corp, Cooley said, has no criminal past and has been married 45 years.

67-year-old former security guard George Brown has been charged for involuntary manslaughter.

67-year-old former security guard George Brown has been charged for involuntary manslaughter.

The family of Phillip Whitaker reacted strongly to news that Brown could walk free today, and some were kicked out of the courtroom. They did not want Brown out on bail, much less one set at what they called a low amount.

They screamed "this is our justice system at work?!" and protested when they were escorted outside.

The judge made it clear his decision to grant bond had nothing to do with Brown's guilt or innocence but hinged on if he's a flight risk or threat to the community.

After the hearing, Brown's family declined to comment on what happened in court. He will return on Sept. 8 for a trial date to be set.

Whitaker's daughter, Tammy Harris, said the low bond was "a tough, hard pill to swallow."

"He murdered my dad and now he can walk free," she said.

She also said the pain continues to weigh heavily on her family.

The manslaughter charge was brought against Brown after police decided there was enough evidence that when he tackled 64-year-old Whitaker it ultimately led to his death two days later. Whitaker was filling his prescription at the VCU Medical ambulatory pharmacy.

Harris said she was livid to find out through social media that Brown had been indicted, almost three weeks after the death of her father.

“We had to find out about the charges on social media and not the police.  I found out through a post on Facebook . It’s very frustrating,” Harris explained.

Harris said her family was told that their dad was not the aggressor in this incident. A multi-jurisdiction grand jury found enough evidence, including surveillance footage of the event, to send the case to trial in Richmond Circuit Court.

“It was brought to our attention that the guard involved has personal ties to the Richmond police department," Harris said. "This was confirmed to us by the detective."

"Richmond police have tried to assure us that the guard’s relationship to someone within their ranks will not affect the case,” Harris said.

After Brown’s indictment this week, he was fired from his job as a security guard at LEW & Associates.

Shelby Brown was in court today and will have more updates from the family, starting at 5 p.m. and throughout the evening newscasts.