Alleged toothpaste shoplifter dies after being forcefully restrained outside Chicago CVS

A man accused of shoplifting tubes of toothpaste from a Chicago CVS has died of strangulation related injuries after an employee forcefully restrained him outside the store.

36-year-old Anthony Kyser was taken to nearby Mt. Sinai Hospital, reportedly in “fair-to-serious” condition, but died 45 minutes later from his injuries. Onlookers say the man was struggling while several people, including a CVS employee, attempted to prevent him from escaping:

Witnesses said Kyser, of the 1400 block of South Hamlin, cried, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” as the CVS worker held him in a chokehold for what they thought was several minutes. Three other men attempted to restrain him in the alley behind the 2600 block of South Pulaski, the witnesses said.

The medical examiner later ruled that Kyser’s death was a homicide, but police have made a controversial decision not to press any charges in the case. Kyser’s family doesn’t understand why police are treating the man’s death as accidental:

“Why would you kill someone over toothpaste?” his ex-wife, Ann Balboa, said through tears Sunday.

“Why would you even chase them, and how is this not murder — it doesn’t make sense.”

Kyser’s family said that though he had served prison time for drug convictions and had a drug problem and “his ups and downs,” nothing he had done came close to justifying his death.

Kyser’s family is also demanding police investigate claims that an off-duty Chicago cop was at the scene when Kyser was strangled, as well as reports that the female officer drew her weapon on the victim.

…witnesses, whose homes back onto the alley where Kyser died and who asked not to be identified, say the officer announced herself, pointed her weapon at a bleeding Kyser and told him to stop resisting the CVS employee and other men who were holding him down.

Chicago Police say that there is “no reference” to the presence of an off-duty officer in the official report on the incident.