Bouncer Charged With Murder in Death of New Bedford’s Eric Pope
The bouncer who allegedly threw the punch that led to the death of former New Bedford School Committee member Eric Pope is now facing third-degree murder charges, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s told WBSM.
“Following investigation by (Philadelphia Police Department) Homicide, the District Attorney’s Office is charging Kenneth Frye with murder in the third degree for an incident that occurred in the early morning hours of April 16 outside of Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar in the Gayborhood section of Center City,” said Jane Roh, spokesperson for Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner.
“Frye is alleged to have punched a patron with such force that it knocked him to the ground. The victim, Eric Pope, passed from his injuries, which included trauma to the brain, on Saturday, April 23,” she said.
Pope, 41, died a week after he was allegedly punched by Frye. Pope had been living in Washington, D.C., and was visiting friends in Philadelphia, and according to police became intoxicated and was escorted outside.
Once outside, video footage shows an altercation between two men in which police said the bouncer “punched the victim once when the victim was outside the club” and that “the victim fell to the ground unconscious.”
WARNING: Graphic footage.
Pope was unresponsive when EMTs arrived and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was placed in intensive care before passing away Saturday.
Frye was not an employee of the bar, but rather of a private security firm hired by the bar.
In Pennsylvania, third-degree murder is any murder that doesn’t meet the qualifications of first-degree murder (committed by an intentional killing) or second-degree murder (committed while the defendant is engaged as the perpetrator or accomplice in the commission of a felony). It is one of only three states, along with Florida and Minnesota, to have such a category of murder.
If convicted, Frye would face up to 40 years in prison.
On its website, Tabu refers to itself as “the best Gay sports bar in Philly.” According to 6ABC, other bars in the area in recent weeks have had similar issues with employees of that same private security company.
That has some concerned that these are not just assaults but also hate crimes against LGBTQ+ patrons.
“A DAO Victim/Witness coordinator and member of the DAO LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee established contact with family members of the (Pope) last week and has been offering supportive services,” Roh said. “The DAO is additionally aware of reports of troubling interactions involving private security workers at Gayborhood establishments.”
Roh said the D.A.’s Office encourages members of the public who wish to share information with authorities that could lead to additional criminal investigations to contact the Philadelphia Hate Crimes Hotline at (215) 686-8913.
“The District Attorney’s Office continues to work with our partners in law enforcement and government toward safety and justice for all Philadelphians, including members of targeted and vulnerable communities. Our office supports passage of state legislation extending discrimination protections to queer Pennsylvanians,” she said.
Roh also said a community vigil is taking place tonight this evening at Kahn Park in Philadelphia in Pope’s memory and to show support for his loved ones.