Video of a man being choked to death by a CVS store manager after he shoplifted from the store has surfaced, DNAinfo.com Chicago reports.
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Now U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill) is calling for a special investigation into the death of 35-year-old Anthony Kyser, who stole a tube of toothpaste from a CVS in the Little Village section of Chicago. DNAinfo.com Chicago secured the video from an unnamed source.
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The video shows the lasts moments of Kyser’s life on May 8, 2010. He is shown fleeing into the alley behind the CVS with the store’s manager, Pedro Villanova, running behind him. A brief struggle ensued before Kyser falls to the ground with Villanova on top of him. Another man enters the screen and attacks Kyser while he is on the ground. More bystanders join in and help pin the man to the ground. Eventually, Kyser stops struggling and apparently goes limp. The cops and emergency workers followed, but they could not revive Kyser.
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The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide, but the Chicago Police Department said it was an accident and did not pursue criminal charges. “The video was reviewed by detectives as part of their investigation at the time,” Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Maureen Biggane said. “It was determined that criminal charges were not warranted.”
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DNAinfo.com Chicago has more:
Kyser’s mother, Ann Marie Kyser, filed a lawsuit claiming the store manager committed battery and that CVS is liable. That case is still pending in Cook County Circuit Court. The video has been discussed in sworn statements taken as part of the case.
“The video shows that Anthony Kyser was being choked by the CVS store manager and that no one did anything to help,” said Jack Kennedy, an attorney with Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith & Montgomery, the law firm representing Kyser’s mother.
“I think it’s appalling that CVS maintains that an employee can choke someone to death if they steal from a CVS store.”
A CVS spokesman would only tell DNAinfo.com that the company does not comment on pending litigation. An attorney representing CVS and the store manager did not return calls for comment.
But in court filings in the civil case, CVS lawyers argue Kyser punched the store manager — identified in court papers at Pedro Villanova — in the face and the manager was acting in self-defense.
Through his attorney, Villanova acknowledges he “held onto Anthony Kyser on the ground while defending himself after being struck,” according to court records.
In a deposition, Villanova said: “As soon as I got hit by Mr. Kyser, that’s when it went from I’m here trying to recover the product and he can leave to all of a sudden he just punched me, so now I need to defend myself.”
In court filings, Villanova acknowledges his “arm came into contact with decedent Anthony Kyser’s throat” and he heard Kyser say “I can’t breathe.”
Soon after Kyser’s death, an outraged U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a Chicago Democrat, sent a letter to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez demanding action for the “brutality visited upon a homeless man.”
Rush now says his “calls for justice” were not heeded. Now, after being shown the video by DNAinfo.com, he said he hopes its release will reopen the investigation.
“This videotape … presents an undeniable moment where [his] life was snatched from him,” he said after viewing the footage. “Thank God for the videotape.”
Video footage of Kyser’s final moments is below.