No Murder Charges in Toothpaste Strangle

Police and witnesses' accounts contradict each other

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 5: (FILE PHOTO) A sign hangs in front of a new CVS pharmacy May 5, 2004 in Chicago, Illinois. CVS Corp. agreed to acquire pharmacy benefits manger Caremark Rx Inc. for about $21 billion dollars. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    Chicago Police refuse to ring up murder charges for a CVS employee who strangled a shoplifter to death, even though the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

    Anthony Kyser packed his pockets with toothpaste tubes from the shelves of a Little Village CVS store over the weekend and a store employee chased after the 35-year-old unemployed barber. The employee caught the shoplifter and wrapped him a choke hold in an alley behind the 2600 block of South Pulaski for several minutes, according to witnesses.

    Witnesses described Kyser screaming "I can't breathe, I can't breathe!" as three other men also tried to restrain him, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

    Chicago Police rejected witnesses' claims that an off-duty officer arrived on scene and pulled her weapon on Kyser.

    But residents told the Sun-Times the officer pointed her gun and warned him to stop trying to free himself from the group of people holding him down. 

    Police said there's no mention of that occurring in their report and stressed Kyser was unconscious when officers showed up.

    His family isn't buying it.

    "How is this not murder - it doesn't make sense," Kyser's ex-wife, Anna Balboa, said. "They've taken away my kids' pops."

    A CVS spokesperson said the company is looking into "the unfortunate incident."

    Balboa said Kyser's family is planning to sue.

    "Why would you kill someone over toothpaste?" Balboa said.

    Police said they're investigating claims -- made by two witnesses to the newspaper -- that an off-duty Chicago cop was at the scene and drew her weapon on Kyser before he died.

    Chicago Police say there is no reference to an off-duty officer in their report.

    The 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.

    When he continued to struggle, she holstered her weapon, got in her car and made a phone call, the witnesses said. 

    CVS has suspended the employee pending an internal investigation.

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