Tabu patron dies after injuries

Tabu Philadelphia (254 S. 12th St.)

A Washington, D.C. man who patronized Tabu Nightclub earlier this month has died after being punched in the head by a bouncer who escorted him outside due to alleged intoxication.

On April 16, Eric Pope was a patron at Tabu Nightclub, 254 S. 12th St. in the Gayborhood, when he reportedly became intoxicated and was escorted outside. The establishment is oriented to the LGBTQ+ community.

Surveillance video of the incident shows a bouncer punching Pope in the head as he stands along South 12th Street, apparently not posing an immediate threat to anyone. Pope lies prostrate in the street for a minute before two bouncers move him to the sidewalk, where he stays for several minutes while a crowd gathers around him. 

Pope, 41, died on April 23 at Jefferson University Hospital, a week after he was injured. 

The Philadelphia Police Department released the following narrative:

“At 12:50 a.m. on 4/16/22, the victim was at a local nightclub located at 2XX South 12th St. when he was escorted outside for being intoxicated. The bouncer punched the victim once when the victim was outside the Club. The victim fell to the ground unconscious. The victim was not responsive when the medics arrived. CPR was performed by Medic #1, who then transported the 41-year-old male to Jefferson Hospital in critical condition. Unfortunately, the victim was pronounced dead on Saturday, 23 April 2022.”

Jeffrey C. Sotland, an owner of Tabu, said the bouncer wasn’t an employee of Tabu. Sotland issued this statement to PGN: 

“Respecting the privacy of the individual’s family and the fact that there is an ongoing investigation into this matter, we can only comment that the bouncer involved was not an employee of Tabu and the incident in question did not occur on our property. When the unconscious individual was reported to our management, we immediately called 911 and sought assistance. We also alerted the Philadelphia Police Department of the incident in question and are cooperating with the Philadelphia Police Department in their investigation.”

According to multiple sources, an outside entity provided security services for Tabu at the time Pope was injured. Thus, the bouncer at issue wasn’t directly employed by Tabu.

Officer Tanya Little of the Philadelphia Police Department said the bouncer’s name wouldn’t be released at this time. “Once I receive that he was charged then I can release his name,” Little said, in an email.

On April 25, Jane Roh, a spokesperson for District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner, said the Philadelphia Police Department is leading the investigation. “Philadelphia Police are leading this investigation,” Roh said, in an email. “If or when they confirm an arrest has been made, our office will be able to announce charges.”

Additional information about Pope wasn’t available. As of press time, the medical examiner’s office hadn’t completed its report.

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Tim Cwiek has been writing for PGN since the 1970s. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from West Chester State University. In 2013, he received a Sigma Delta Chi Investigative Reporting Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his reporting on the Nizah Morris case. Cwiek was the first reporter for an LGBT media outlet to win an award from that national organization. He's also received awards from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the National Newspaper Association, and the Keystone Press.