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Video of homicide by ex-pharmacy guard shows why he was convicted, CBS 6 legal analyst says

Posted at 12:42 AM, Jan 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 00:45:33-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The former VCU Medical Center security guard convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Richmond Circuit Court early Thursday afternoon could remain a free man even though he deserved conviction, said CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone.

Stone watched the surveillance video of the August 7 incident that was so critical in Richmond Circuit Court Judge Reilly Marchant's decision to convict George Brown Jr.

The clear video showing the lobby of VCU Medical Center's Ambulatory Pharmacy shows Brown, then 67, grabbing 64-year-old Phillip Whitaker and throwing him to the floor, where he hit his head and died two days later.

Testimony showed Whitaker had been at the pharmacy for some time, apparently having problems with his prescription. When he heard his name called he was supposed to go to the back of the line, but came to the front, where Brown challenged him then threw him down.

"He threw him pretty hard," Stone said. "Involuntary manslaughter is the accidental killing of another person. There has to be a high degree of negligence. The question is, really, is the security guard acting with a diligence and in the proper manner that a security guard should be acting for that sort of a violation - you know, cutting in line."

After watching the video, Stone said, "I can understand a conviction of involuntary with that."

But when Brown is sentenced in late March, he could conceivably be given probation, since his record appears to be spotless, Stone said.

"Sentencing guidelines for involuntary manslaughter is surprisingly low. So if he doesn't have any other record (the judge) may recommend probation no incarceration."

As he convicted him, Judge Marchant said Brown had an exemplary work record.

But in this one case, the judge said, "it was and unwarranted and excessive reaction to a normal breach" of manners.

Brown remains free on bond pending his sentencing.

Watch the surveillance video and our other report about the conviction, including reactions from the friends and family of Whitaker and Brown.