The Chicago police and CVS Pharmacies are under fire after a CVS manager chased a shoplifter and choked him to death, even as an off-duty sheriff's officer stood on the scene with a loaded handgun drawn at her side. Anthony Kyser, 35, was killed after stealing toothpaste and crayons from a CVS store. The officer shouted "stop resisting," but did not otherwise intervene.
Witness statements indicated that Anthony Kyser cried, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe!" while he was held in a chokehold for several minutes. The Chicago Police have confirmed that a Cook County sheriff's officer was present, however police did not identify the name of the officer or the CVS manager.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that according to a witness, as the correctional officer pointed a weapon at Kyser and told him to stop struggling. They say Kyser repeatedly pleaded that he couldn't breathe.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Patterson initially said there is nothing for the sheriff to investigate, based on the account of the incident. Chicago Police had indicated they will not press charges against the CVS manager, despite a medical examiner's finding that man's death was a homicide, reports MyFoxChicago.
As of Wednesday, charges have not been ruled out. Steve Miller of News Radio 780 in Chicago reported that police may be reconsidering. Police Commander Joseph Salemme stated on Wednesday, "While charges are not being sought at this time, it would be premature to speculate on the outcome of this case."
Kyser's ex-wife Ann Marie Balboa expressed anger regarding the fact that police have not charged anyone in Kyser's death:
"How's it accidental?" Balboa said. "You're choking the [expletive] out of somebody...He should be facing criminal charges. You don't take someone's life over toothpaste."
The Sun-Times reports that witnesses say the officer never told the employee to release Kyser. The paper also cites sources stating that the officer can be seen pointing a gun at Kyser on surveillance video. Police also have not explained why the off-duty officer left the scene before uniformed officers arrived.