This Chicago criminal attorney recently posted here about outrageous sentences for small retail thefts. She and her family were shocked by the recent death of the gentleman who was accused of shoplifting some toothpaste.
Anthony Kyser didn't have money for the tubes of toothpaste he stuffed in his jacket before he walked out of a Little Village CVS store Saturday morning.
He paid with his life, instead.
Chased out of the store and down a litter-strewn alley shortly before 11 a.m., the 35-year-old unemployed barber was strangled to death by a CVS employee who had seen him shoplifting, officials said.
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 ruled Kyser's death a homicide, saying an autopsy showed he had been strangled, but police said Sunday the employee who killed him won't be charged.
Police are treating the death as "accidental," Chicago Police spokesman Daniel O'Brien said.
That's a decision Kyser's outraged family can't understand.
"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."
Today I heard from two veteran police officers. They lacked any sympathy for Kyser. One said, well he took a chance when he stole that anything can happen because he was stealing. The other said, perhaps this death would be a deterrent for others. I disagreed. When a human being reaches a point, in this country, where they are taking toothpaste, they are past the point of being deterred. This type of desperation will probably continue for a long time while our economy continues to suffer.