Former New Bedford Politician Dies After Punch From Bouncer
Former New Bedford School Committee member and community fixture Eric Pope has died, more than a week after he was involved in an altercation with a bouncer outside of a Philadelphia nightclub.
He was 41 years old.
The altercation happened shortly before 1 a.m. on April 16 outside of Tabu Bar and Lounge in the Center City section of Philadelphia. According to Philadelphia Police, Pope was inside the nightclub when he was escorted outside for being intoxicated. Police say the bouncer “punched the victim once when the victim was outside the club” and that “the victim fell to the ground unconscious.”
Police said Pope was not responsive when medics arrived, and a medic attempted CPR before Pope was transported to Jefferson Hospital in critical condition. He was pronounced dead on Saturday, April 23.
WARNING: Graphic footage.
No arrests have been made at this time, although Fox29 is reporting that law enforcement said charges are expected.
"Violence is unacceptable," Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner told reporters. "It is stunning to think of someone whose job it is to try and prevent unsafe situations causing severe injuries or in this case even causing death."
"We look at these situations very, very carefully to make sure that we are not excessively and unfairly using our power," Krasner said. "And we will do that with this case as we would for any other homicide case, especially one that has this peculiar aspect of it which is a punch that results in death."
According to Fox29, Pope now lives in Washington, D.C. and was visiting friends in Philadelphia.
Tabu management, which is cooperating with police in the investigation, has told multiple media outlets that the bouncer was not an employee of the bar. They also have said the incident did not happen on their property. 6ABC in Philadelphia reported the same private security company that employs the bouncer has been “at the center of other incidents of physical altercations in Center City bars” in recent weeks.
Pope got involved in New Bedford politics at a young age, and in 2001 was the youngest person to that point ever elected to the New Bedford School Committee at just 21 years old.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn this week of the tragic death of former New Bedford School Committee member Eric Pope. Eric was first elected to the committee in 2001 and was at the time the youngest person ever so elected. He served until 2010, and distinguished himself as a champion of our city’s school children and an ardent proponent of elevating academic standards,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said in a Facebook post. “We are grateful for his public service and commitment to the city. I offer my condolences to his family at this difficult time, and hope that justice will be done in his name.”
“With Eric, it was just nice to have the young perspective about education, and not from a group of citizens that likely averaged 50-plus-years-old or better,” said Nancy Feeney, who served with Pope on the New Bedford School Committee from 2004-08. “He was polished and polite, and he thought before he spoke.”
State Representative Chris Markey, who worked with Pope in the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, remembered him as a “good guy with a lot of energy” when Pope worked in the D.A.’s Community Outreach Program.
“It’s just a horrible thing,” Markey told WBSM. “I haven’t been in contact with him lately, but I remember him as a young guy who worked in our community outreach program, and was pretty involved in school stuff. He was also involved in getting a lot of the non-profits involved in some of the activities we were promoting with civil forfeiture money.”
Markey said Pope’s dedication to service ran in his family.
“He comes from a family where everyone kind of gives back to the community that they’re in, particularly the Cape Verdean community,” Markey said.
He called the video footage of the fatal punch “unbelievable” and pointed out that the bouncer was much bigger than Pope.
“It’s sad. It’s stupid,” Markey said. “I just feel bad that I wasn’t in contact with him. He was a good guy.”