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A man died after a Center City bar bouncer allegedly punched him. The security company has a history of complaints.

Eric Pope, 41, died over the weekend after he was punched by a bouncer at Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar.

Police are investigating the death of a patron after being punched by a bouncer at Tabu in Center City.
Police are investigating the death of a patron after being punched by a bouncer at Tabu in Center City.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

A patron of a Center City bar died Saturday, a week after he was allegedly punched and knocked unconscious by a bouncer who worked for a private security company with a history of complaints.

A bouncer escorted Eric Pope out of Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar shortly before 1 a.m. on April 16 for being intoxicated, police said. Once outside of the bar, the bouncer — whose name has not been released — allegedly punched Pope in the head, causing him to fall to the ground, knocking him unconscious and injuring his head.

Video, obtained by Fox 29, shows that bouncers eventually dragged Pope to the sidewalk but later left him unattended as bystanders gathered. He was later taken to Jefferson University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.

On Saturday, Pope, 41, succumbed to his injuries.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no arrests had been made nor any charges filed, police said. The Homicide Division was investigating the incident.

One of the owners of Tabu, Jeffrey Sotland, said the bouncer who allegedly punched Pope was not an employee of the bar and was from an outside security company, Mainline Private Security.

Sotland did not identify the bouncer or provide additional details on the incident. However, he insisted that the April 16 incident was the first time they had run into issues with the security company, which supplies bouncers to a variety of popular nightlife venues across the city.

Court filings show that Mainline has been sued a dozen times since 2020, frequently over bouncers’ alleged use of force or failure to summon medics in response to injuries. At least one of those lawsuits involved another Center City bar that shares an owner with Tabu.

A lawsuit over a 2019 incident alleges that an intoxicated patron fell down a flight of stairs at Tavern on Camac, which lists Tabu partner Stephen P. Carlino on its liquor license. The patron suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him “permanently disabled.” The suit faults Mainline, which had been contracted for security, for its bouncers’ “failure to call for emergency medical response” for the injury.

Carlino did not return a call for comment.

Frank Deasey, the attorney who represented Mainline in the suit, says that the company denied the plaintiff’s claims and that the case was settled during the pandemic. Deasey said the claims that bouncers failed to call for medical help were false.

“The evidence is that the EMTs were called immediately. I think they were on the scene within minutes. There’s absolutely no truth to that allegation,” he said.

In another suit, a Mainline bouncer was accused of sucker-punching a patron leaving the nightclub Voyeur in the head. The suit asserts neither he nor another Mainline employee attempted to help the injured man, who was later hospitalized. In 2020, that bouncer, who had previously served jail time for carrying an unlicensed firearm, was found guilty in criminal courts over the assault and sentenced to eight months’ probation.

A third suit alleges that during an altercation outside the nightclub NOTO, a Mainline bouncer punched an innocent bystander in to a parked car, fracturing his jaw. That incident was caught on tape.

Calls to Brett Kern, who is listed as Mainline’s director of business development, and Jason Cserpnyak, who is listed as its director of operations, were not immediately returned.

Sotland said Tuesday morning that Tabu would open for its regular hours that night. He did not say if Tabu would continue to use Mainline.

“We’re looking at how to handle security in the future,” said Sotland. “And we are presently looking at all our options. As you can imagine, it’s quite a new incident. It’s something that obviously just happened and we’re working to make sure things like this never happen again.”

Tim Craig found out about what happened to his friend after a few text messages he sent to Pope went unanswered. After messaging a mutual friend, Craig, who met Pope in 2016 when they both lived in Washington, D.C., received the news of his death.

Craig described Pope as a congenial person, always quick to give business advice to friends.

“I don’t want to sound cliché, but he was a very friendly guy,” said Craig. “He was one of the most genuine, friendly, kindhearted, empathetic persons you could meet. And I don’t say that lightly. He had a lot of friends.”

Craig said that Pope had been working as a project coordinator for the Federal Reserve’s Division of Monetary Affairs and had moved to Philadelphia around the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pope raved about his new hometown, even trying to persuade Craig to move here himself.

“From the moment he lived there, he spoke about how great it was to move to Philadelphia,” said Craig. “He got more space. He was just really happy there.”

The reports that Pope had been thrown out of Tabu for intoxication blindsided Craig.

“Everyone who knew him is quite shocked,” he said. “Because he really wasn’t the type of person you would think would be kicked out of a bar. He didn’t get involved in fights. He wasn’t belligerent. He didn’t get involved in fights. It’s truly a shock to anyone that knew him.”