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Family sues 7-Eleven over man’s death outside convenience store

A lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges 7-Eleven did nothing to help a customer who was assaulted outside this store and fell into the street, where he lay until being struck by a taxi. | Google Streetview image

Phyllis Nelson could barely watch the security camera video when it was presented to her for the first time Wednesday night.

It shows her nephew, Marques Gaines, getting knocked out by a single punch outside a 7-Eleven.

It shows two people running up to his limp body on the street where he lay at State and Hubbard.

At first it appears the two were Good Samaritans looking to render first aid. But they were actually thieves who emptied his pockets of a wallet and cell phone and fled.

And it shows, moments later, the jerking motion of the taxi cab that rounds the corner and runs over Gaines as several people, who could have helped, stand nearby.

On Thursday morning, 10 weeks after Gaines was killed, his family filed suit against the convenience store and released video from three security cameras showing what happened.

The suit alleges that store owners, operators and employees are culpable in the death because they did not properly train personnel and — despite knowing that crime is high in that particular area — did not provide adequate security.

A message left with 7-Eleven seeking comment was not returned Thursday.

The incident happened just after 4 a.m. Feb. 7.

After finishing his shift working as a bartender at the Marriott hotel on North Michigan Avenue, Gaines, 32, took an Uber to meet friends at Mother Hubbard’s — a sports bar next to the 7-Eleven, according to Christopher T. Hurley, an attorney representing Gaines’ family.

Marques Gaines. | Provided photo

Marques Gaines. | Provided photo

After leaving the bar, Gaines went into the 7-Eleven to buy a bag of chips. Outside the store, he soon found himself in the middle of a confrontation between a 7-Eleven security guard and a man who’d just been kicked out, according to the suit and Hurley.

The man who’d been booted from the store spoke with and pointed at Gaines before assaulting him — leaving him unconscious in a crosswalk near the curb.

Gaines tried to get away from the man before he was punched a few feet from the store’s front door.

“At this point the security guard that was retained by the 7-11 Corporation goes into the safety of the store and calls 911 from within the store,” Hurley said Thursday at a news conference held steps from where Gaines was killed. “Police ask if the man is breathing, and the security guard doesn’t know. He then goes out and looks at Marques Gaines lying in the street and stands there talking to 9-11 while a cab drives up and drives over Marques Gaines and kills him.”

Gaines was in the street for two minutes before the cab hit him. He was pinned underneath the cab for three minutes, according to the suit.

“Render some first aid. Is that too much to ask? How about stop traffic so that he’s not driven over by a taxi cab,” Hurley said. “These are just basic things that a trained security guard would have done.”

Gaines was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and had emergency surgery but died soon after, according to the suit.

“We have heard from some witnesses that this attacker was wandering around the store claiming that he was the king of the street prior to the attack,” Hurley said, noting that family was upset police had not found the man despite having a clear picture of his face.

The attack and its callous aftermath were hard for loved ones to fathom.

“Even if you rob him for cash, pull him out of the street,” Drexina Nelson, Gaines’ cousin, said Thursday. “That says a lot about where we are as people.”

“Honestly I can say he’s probably never been in a fight, he was probably like ‘Whoa. What’d I get into?’ In the video he kind of holds his hands up and I know he was probably like, ‘I just don’t want any trouble.’ Marques was just a victim of circumstances, he had nothing to do with this,” Drexina said.

Gaines was raised in Atlanta, but moved to Chicago about seven years ago.

Drexina said Gaines was her cousin but was more like her brother because, at a young age, he came to live with the Nelson family after his father died from a brain tumor and his mother died from a heart attack.

After graduating high school, Gaines attended Northern Michigan University in the state’s Upper Peninsula because he wanted to be close to Drexina, who’d taken a job working for Ford Motor Company in Detroit.

“But he didn’t realize it was seven hours away,” Drexina said with a laugh.

“It was our ongoing joke because he didn’t like snow, or the outdoors that much,” said college friend Ben Wielechowski. “And we were always out camping and hiking and making him do things he wasn’t that comfortable with.”

Gaines, who lived in the Lake View neighborhood, was an aspiring screen writer.

“We had this covenant together,” Wielechowski said. “Where we said we each had to submit a piece of writing to one another once a week, and if we failed to do that we’d have to sacrifice something.” Gaines once sacrificed his favorite pair of sneakers.

Daniel Alvarez, who worked with Gaines and was out with him the night he died, said another friend told him about a conversation he had with Gaines a few hours before he died.

“For whatever reason that night Marques pulled him to the side and was talking to him about how all his friends were starting to get married. I guess he was starting to feel the urge not to be alone anymore and make a connection with someone,” Alvarez recalled.

The lawsuit filed Thursday is an amended version of an earlier lawsuit that named two taxi companies and a taxi driver.