Breaking: In wake of Lakeview bar shooting, wrongful death suit filed against Walsh Security

Mario Dingillo | Facebook

The family of a man who was fatally shot by a security officer near a Roscoe Village bar in November has filed a wrongful death suit against the guard and his employer, Walsh Security, according to a media release.

This morning’s announcement is the latest blow to the embattled security company, which is owned by Chicago Police Officer Thomas J. Walsh.

Mario Dingillo, age 29, was fatally shot by a security guard who was assigned to work security for Bluelight, a late hours bar at 3251 North Western, on November 3, 2019, police have said.

CWBChicago first identified Walsh Security as the guard’s employer in a report several days later. 


New allegations

The lawsuit alleges that Dingillo, his wife, and a friend were walking outside the bar when someone in another group pushed Dingillo and a fight broke out. 

As Dingillo and his wife tried to walk away from the area, a second group of men dressed in all black approached the couple but did not identify themselves as Walsh Security guards, according to a media release that announced the lawsuit Thursday morning.

One of the guards, identified in the press release as Michael Hammond, allegedly maced Dingillo, who kept walking toward his nearby car.

“Hammond proceeded to follow Dingillo [and] after a series of verbal threats, Hammond pulled out a gun and fired four shots at Dingillo, who was rushed to Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was pronounced dead,” according to the lawsuit’s claims.

“This was an unnecessary and flagrant use of deadly force by a Walsh Security guard that tragically left a young father of two dead,” said Karen Munoz, an attorney who’s handling the case.

Criminal charges declined

During a November community meeting, 19th District Police Commander Chris Papaioannou said the security guard saw two groups of people involved in a verbal altercation near the intersection of Western and School from his post outside the bar around 3:20 a.m. Dingillo, he said, was part of the disturbance when the guard walked over to separate the parties.

Dingillo and some companions then tried to enter the bar, but the guard denied them entry and then joined another security guard to walk the group to their vehicle on a nearby side street, according to police.

“Words were said” as the guards, Dingillo, and others neared the intersection of School and Oakley, Papaioannou continued. “It became physical, and the deceased pulled a weapon.”

This morning’s lawsuit announcement claims Dingillo was licensed to carry a firearm, but he did not have one on the night he was killed. Police said he was found wearing an empty gun holster, and investigators never found a weapon that belonged to him.

Chicago police detectives sought to file homicide charges against the guard, but the Cook County State’s Attorney declined to pursue the case, Papaioannou said at a community meeting on November 18.

Walsh struggles

This morning’s lawsuit is the newest challenge for Walsh Security, which has been the subject of dozens of CWBChicago report since 2015.

Most recently, a man who worked for years as a Walsh Security guard along the Boystown nightlife strip was charged with repeatedly sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy in suburban Kane County. (CWBChicago has been preparing a follow-up report on the allegations since last week.)

CWBChicago reported in 2015 that the guard involved in the Kane County case patrolled for Walsh even though he is a convicted felon and his state license to work as a security guard had been revoked years earlier. 

On June 22, the Northhalsted Business Alliance announced that it was severing ties with Walsh Security more than three years after CWBChicago first reported that Thomas Walsh was facing suspension from the Chicago Police Department for an off-duty race-fueled battery against a gay bar doorman. The business group publicly re-upped its deal with Walsh in March.

The Northalsted deal generated about $80,000 a year for Walsh’s company, according to the alliance’s annual reports.

Earlier this year, the Center on Halsted dropped Walsh Security as its on-property security contractor. That deal was worth about $125,000 a year, according to IRS records.

CWBChicago’s coverage of Walsh and his security firm includes:

  • a June 2017 report that found Walsh Security guards were patrolling Boystown even though Thomas Walsh’s license to contract security services was expired. And, we reported, the logos and star-shaped badges Walsh’s officers wore appeared to violate state law by incorporating the Illinois State Seal in their designs. The state seal is prohibited on security uniforms so the public does not mistake private guards for police officers.
  • our September 2017 report that Walsh Security directly received $52,520 in taxpayer funds to patrol Halsted Street in 2011 and 2012 in violation of an ordinance that bars Chicago employees — like cops — from receiving tax money for outside services.
  • our September 2017 discovery that a company called A&T Security, owned by Thomas Walsh’s adult children, was receiving tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to provide security guards who sometimes wore Walsh Security uniforms and who were known to work for Walsh Security in Boystown. A&T, we reported, was not licensed by the state and neither of Walsh’s children was licensed to contract security services, either. Following our report, the state involuntarily dissolved A&T Security and regulators fined Walsh’s children.
  • our September 2018 report that Thomas Walsh had reached a $300,000 settlement with the Lucky Horseshoe Lounge doorman who was injured in the race-charged battery five years earlier

A group of Lakeview residents continues to pay Walsh Security about $85,000 a year for nightly patrols in the area between Barry, Roscoe, Ashland, and Racine streets.

Following CWBChicago’s 2017 reports, the BARR Neighbors group met with Thomas Walsh about the Lucky Horseshoe incident as well as Walsh’s assignment of non-police officers to the group’s patrols despite promising that only cops would be used, according to emails provided to CWBChicago. BARR leaders opted to maintain their relationship with Walsh and his company.

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About CWBChicago 6698 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com