The family of the man slain in February outside Richard’s Bar has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tavern and the suspect charged with murdering Kenneth Paterimos. Attorneys filed the lawsuit on Monday in Cook County circuit court. The family is accusing Richard’s staff of over-serving Thomas Tansey, the ex-Marine who prosecutors say killed 23-year-old Paterimos with a boxcutter on February 21.
Back in March, before the stay-at-home orders and the Black Lives Matter protests, Paterimos and protesters — a mix of friends, family, and supporters angry about the slaying — gathered outside Richard’s, a late-night dive bar near the intersection of Halsted, Grand, and Milwaukee avenues, angry that police had yet to apprehend the suspect. They accused Chicago police of a racial double standard, as Tansey is white. The claimed that police would have made an arrest if the suspect was BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or a person of color).
The victim’s family claims Tansey targeted Paterimos because he was gay: Paterimos was stabbed eight times after Tansey yelled a homophobic slur at him, prosecutors allege. Richard’s staff threw Tansey out of the bar after a fight with Paterimos, who was there with his brother. Paterimos went outside to smoke a cigarette and Tansey was there, setting off a second altercation leading to the killing. The lawsuit filed Monday claims Tansey was drinking alone for several hours the night of the slaying. Bars can be held liable for the actions of customers if bartenders serve drinkers who are clearly intoxicated.
Police took Tansey into custody after the killing, but released him three days later when Tansey claimed self defense. Police issued an arrest warrant for Tansey a week later, on March 1. After Paterimos’s family and friends protested outside Richard’s on March 3, prosecutors filed two counts of second-degree murder charges against Tansey on March 4. Police then took him into custody, 10 days after Paterimos’s death. A trial date for Tansey has yet to be set.
Meanwhile, Richard’s Bar drew criticism from protesters and family. The dive bar borders several neighborhoods: River West, West Loop, and West Town. The bar is known for allowing patrons to illegally smoke indoors and for its late-night liquor license, which allows it to remain open until 4 a.m. Paterimos’s family felt the bar’s management and customers could do more to help police arrest Tansey. There were also photos posted on social media by accounts aligned with the bar allegedly showing blood from Paterimos’s wounds on the bar’s floors. Diona Bueno, the victim’s mother, was stricken by grief the night of the protests and attempted to enter the building to seek answers. Management locked her, and all the protesters, out of the bar.