Eric Pope death: Tabu in downtown Philadelphia announces changes after fatal punch

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A downtown Philadelphia bar has announced changes after the death of Eric Pope last month, including the hiring of its own security manager.

In a social media statement on Tuesday, Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar said the security manager, who has not been identified, had been a mainstay of the Gayborhood for more than a decade.

“(The Manager) will be responsible for overseeing the safety of our customers and staff,” the statement read.

Tabu, located on the 200 block of South 12th Street, is also in the process of hiring additional staff who the bar says are “trained and certified in accordance with all city requirements.”

“(We) hope these candidates include members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Tabu said.

All Tabu employees, including management, will undergo additional de-escalation and LGBTQIA+ awareness and sensitivity training, according to the statement.

It was April 16 when police said Pope, 41, had been escorted out of Tabu because he was intoxicated. Investigators said the bouncer, Kenneth Frye, 24, of Philadelphia, then punched him, in a scene that played out on surveillance video.

Pope fell to the ground and died of his injuries, which included traumatic brain injury, in hospital days after the incident.

Tabu said the bouncer was not a bar employee. Action News learned that he worked for a private security company.

Frye surrendered to police on April 28 and was charged with third degree murder.

In the wake of Pope’s death, the community demanded answers, including LGBTQ community activists who gathered outside the bar after the deadly incident.

Action News spoke to Pope’s aunt, Bunny Conceiceo, who said her nephew was “so good, so helpful and so honest”.

“He cared about people, helped people. He was a member of the school committee for many years, and anyone who needed anything was there to help,” Conceiceo said.

In the statement, Tabu staff offered their condolences to Pope’s family and friends. They said the bar will continue to “strive to do better for the community”.

“As we move forward and in the most respectful way possible for Eric’s family and his memory, we will continue to engage the community in efforts to focus on addressing violence,” Tabu said.

Tabu said he waited to release a statement to communicate concrete, actionable insights rather than speaking in generalities.

According to the statement, its staff met with community leaders and listened to feedback from the neighborhood.

“We have taken time as a team to focus on reinventing our place as a safe space. The LGBTQIA+ community has every right to come to Tabu and feel safe and protected,” says the communicated.

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