RIVER NORTH — Marques Gaines, a beloved bartender in River North, was beaten, robbed and left to die in the street by bystanders, his family is saying in a lawsuit against 7-Eleven and others.
Gaines, 32, was outside the convenience store at 418 N. State St. early Feb. 7 when a man punched him and knocked him into the street, where he was then run over by a passing cab.
Now Gaines' family has released video of the incident that shows people walking around Gaines as he lay in the street. Though a crowd formed near Gaines, bystanders did not try to block traffic or pull Gaines onto the sidewalk, and it appears two men went through Gaines' pockets and robbed him before he was hit by the car, according to the lawsuit and video of the incident.
Gaines' aunt, Phyllis Nelson, who raised him in Atlanta after his parents died, is suing the driver who hit Gaines and Chicago Taxi, but the family is also suing 7-Eleven, saying it hired a security guard ill-equipped to handle the deadly ordeal.
"There was this person attacking their customers in their threshold and [the guard] stood by and watched," said Christopher T. Hurley, the Chicago lawyer representing the Gaines family. "After my client was knocked to the ground and knocked unconscious, he stood inside in a place of safety and watched him bleeding until he was run over by a cab."
Gaines had gone into the 7-Eleven to buy a bag of chips after a night out with co-workers, according to the lawsuit. Another man tried to go into the convenience store but was kicked out by a security guard. Afterward, the man and security guard yelled at each other outside.
The lawsuit says Gaines tried to leave by slipping between the two, but the man punched Gaines in the back of his head and then hit him a second time, knocking Gaines unconscious. The security guard saw the attack but went back inside the store and watched as two men robbed Gaines as he lay in the street.
Afterward, a different 7-Eleven employee walked over to Gaines. He was joined by the security guard, and they watched as a cab driver ran over Gaines while the security guard was on the phone with 911, according to the lawsuit and Hurley.
After being hit by the car, Gaines was taken to Northwestern Hospital, where he was revived four times, according to the lawsuit. The fifth time Gaines "coded," or lost vital signs, doctors determined they couldn't save him and he died.
Hurley said the whole situation "should have been defused" by the store's security, and the cab driver should have been more aware of the scene.
"You need to watch where you’re driving, especially if someone is laying in the street," he said.
Hurley said 7-Eleven should be aware of crime in the area and should have provided "competent" security to guard customers, arguing that businesses "have a reasonable obligation" to keeping people safe. A trained security guard would have locked the doors, asked the customers to wait and called 911 to take care of the attacker, Hurley said.
Tom Kalayil, the franchisee of the 7-Eleven store at 418 N. State St., said he "feels sorry" for Gaines and his family, but dismissed the notion that the store was responsible for his death. Kalayil said he believed the altercation between Gaines and his assailant stemmed from Mother Hubbard's, a bar next door to his store.
"All I know is it was an incident outside the store, by the sidewalk on the street," Kalayil said. "It stemmed from Mother Hubbard's entrance, not my entrance."
A Mother Hubbard's representative could not be reached Thursday morning.
Though not a named defendant in the suit, police also drew scrutiny from Gaines family, according to their attorney.
"It’s remarkable to us there hasn’t been an arrest yet," Hurley said.
The family also dismissed initial reports Gaines had been involved in a fight, saying that wasn't in his nature, and called for witnesses to step forward to talk about what happened.
Hurley did not share how much the family seeks in the lawsuit, saying that would be determined by the case's judge and jury.
Gaines' death devastated his friends and colleagues, who said he was friendly and charismatic.
"There was just never a dull day with Marques — even on our bad days, he would find a way to make it fun," said Rudy Coronel, who worked alongside Gaines at the Chicago Marriott Hotel on Michigan Avenue. "He could get along with anybody, make anybody laugh. He was just that kind of guy, so full of life."
Drexina Nelson, Gaines' cousin, said Thursday morning that their family had "suffered tremendously." She hopes releasing the video of Gaines' death will help find his attacker and answer more questions surrounding his tragic passing.
"How could people just walk by like nothing happened? This is a human. This is a person. What if it was your own family; how would you feel about that?" Nelson said. "What does it say for a person who robs a person that's down? That says a lot about where we are as people."
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