RIVER WEST — The family of Kenneth Paterimos has filed a wrongful death suit against the ex-Marine charged with his murder, as well as the River West bar.
The family filed the civil lawsuit Monday against the bar and Thomas Tansey, 30, who faces first-degree murder charges in Paterimos’ death following a Feb. 21 fight at Richard’s Bar.
Attorney John Corbett, who is representing Paterimos’ family, said the Pilsen barista was targeted because he was gay.
“It is the hope of Kenneth Paterimos’ family that going public with this tragedy — a tragedy they will have to live with always, a tragedy they will have to live with their entire life … will put a stop to this senseless violence against LGBTQ people,” Corbett said.
The lawsuit alleges the bar, 491 N. Milwaukee Ave., failed to follow Illinois dram shop laws by serving alcohol to an intoxicated person. The lawsuit also alleges the bar was negligent for failing to have “adequate security for the protection of its patrons.”
Corbett told Block Club Chicago the lawsuit comes after reviewing a police report retrieved through a Freedom of Information Request. He said he wanted to thoroughly review the documents before filing the report.
“In Illinois, you cannot serve alcohol to an intoxicated person at any time. That’s the law … . Witnesses in this case all said Tansey was very intoxicated at this time,” Corbett said.
Representatives for Richard’s Bar could not be reached for comment.
Sam Amirante, an attorney representing Tansey in the criminal case, declined to comment Tuesday. Amirante said he had not received notice of the wrongful death lawsuit.
A fight broke out between Tansey and Paterimos at the bar the night of Feb. 21. Some witnesses told police Tansey had yelled a homophobic slur at Paterimos.
Prosecutors said Tansey was “severely intoxicated” at the bar when he and Paterimos fought, fell to the floor and had to be separated. Prosecutors later would say witnesses were unclear about who started the fight.
Tansey was tossed out and Paterimos later walked outside to smoke a cigarette. Another fight between the two ensued and Paterimos was slashed with a box cutter and stabbed multiple times, according to initial reports from police.
Following the stabbing, Paterimos’ brother, Santiago “Julian” Bueno, stopped Tansey and disarmed him until police arrived. Officers found a blood-covered knife where witnesses said Tansey had left it, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said in March Paterimos was stabbed eight times. He was taken to Stroger Hospital and pronounced dead.
A friend of Paterimos who had come outside with him was also stabbed. He has no memory of what happened outside the bar, prosecutors said.
Bueno said detectives told him to “find a witness” or they couldn’t bring charges against his brother’s attacker. Bueno returned to Richard’s Bar, where he recognized the same bar staff from the night before. They hugged him. They apologized. But none of them were willing to speak as witnesses, Bueno said.
Days after the stabbing, Tansey was released, claiming self-defense.
About 100 family members, friends and outraged Chicagoans staged a protest outside the bar for failing to cooperate with police and calling for Tansey to be re-arrested and charged for the murder of Paterimos.
Amid mounting pressure, Tansey was arrested nearly two weeks after the fatal stabbing.
During a March 5 hearing, Judge Charles Beach ordered Tansey held without bail. While Tansey claimed self-defense, Beach said the wounds did not suggest mutual combat.
Three weeks later, Tansey was released on electronic monitoring after a second hearing. A status hearing on the case is scheduled for September.
In the months since Paterimos’s death, his mother, Diona Bueno, said the family was still reeling from her 23-year-old son’s death.
“I ride the train talking to him,” Diona Bueno said. “Sometimes I feel his presence leave when we get to Ashland because that was the stop he would get off to go to work … . I feel empty when I get to Ashland.
“It’s hard. Every day is hard.”
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