Boycott CVS Pharmacy: They Choke Shoplifters to Death

And all he took was toothpaste and a box of crayons.

What is worse, a woman off-duty officer witnessed the choking and did nothing. The black man, Anthony Kyser, an unemployed barber, kept saying that he couldn’t breathe. The murderer is going free, but he’s been suspended by CVS pending an investigation.

No charges have been leveled against those who were responsible.

That’s America, 2010.

Anthony Kyser, who was murdered for shoplifting toothpaste and crayons (Courtesy: NBC Chicago)

The cops are condoning this literal execution. So is CVS. Where is ethics in this case? Where is morality? It’s not like he had stuck up the drugstore with a gun for cash. Justifying the killing of a shoplifter who probably stole less than $5-10 worth of items? I don’t care what his petty crime record was, killing him should have straight up put the employee in the slammer, along with the ones who held him down. The employee took the law into his own hands. And it was NOT accidental. That man was running on rage.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office found that Kyser was strangled to death and ruled it a homicide. But Chicago police determined the death was accidental, saying a store manager put a chokehold on Kyser as he tried to restrain him. The department, though, declined to elaborate further on its decision not to pursue criminal charges.

A spokesman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said Monday evening that the office had not been formally asked by Chicago police to review the case for charges.

According to a law enforcement source, police didn’t pursue charges against the store manager because there was no obvious indication that he intended to harm the shoplifting suspect.

CVS officials said the company is investigating the employee’s conduct and that he won’t return to work until the probe is completed.

I call bullsh*t entirely on the accidental death claim. I call bullsh*t that he didn’t intend to harm Anthony Kyser. Kyser had slugged him; that was something he should not have dared.

Meanwhile, after lying to the contrary that there wasn’t an officer on the scene who saw what was going on, the Chicago Police Department admitted that someone was there that could have stopped it, but didn’t. From the Chicago Sun Times:

An off-duty Cook County sheriff‘s officer was filmed standing just yards away as a CVS employee strangled a shoplifter Saturday, Chicago Police acknowledged Monday.

A day after Chicago Police said they were unaware of the off-duty correctional officer‘s presence during Anthony Kyser’s final moments, Chicago Police spokeswoman Lt. Maureen Biggane said the officer dialed 911 from the scene and identified herself.

But she did not intervene. She did not stop it.

Shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday, an employee chased Kyser from the store and put him in a choke hold for what seemed like several minutes as three other men held Kyser down in an alley in the 2600 block of South Pulaski, witnesses told the Sun-Times. As the correctional officer pointed a weapon at Kyser and told him to stop struggling, Kyser repeatedly pleaded that he couldn’t breathe, the witnesses said.

Biggane said a surveillance video shows the correctional officer in the alley, speaking on a cell phone, but does not show her pointing a weapon. The officer waited for an ambulance to arrive, but left before uniformed Chicago Police arrived, Biggane said.

Police wouldn’t release the correctional officer’s identity. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Patterson said there is nothing for the sheriff to investigate, based on Chicago Police’s account of her actions.

But sources who’ve seen the tape say it shows the officer holding a gun behind her back while talking to Kyser as he struggles. The melee began when Kyser punched the employee chasing him, they said.

Two witnesses who live by the alley told the Sun-Times the officer never told the CVS employee to release his hold on Kyser.

His ex-wife can’t even find the place where Kyser died.

Kyser had convictions for drugs and burglary, according to court records.

But [Ann Marie] Balboa, who divorced Kyser in September, said her husband of 5½ years had a good heart and was a dedicated stepfather who taught her three sons to be respectful.

After an hour of searching in the alley, she laid a small bouquet of red flowers and two balloons against a door near where she believed he died.

She was furious over the decision not to pursue charges against the store manager.

“How’s it accidental?” Balboa said. “You’re choking the (expletive) out of somebody. He should be fired. He should be facing criminal charges. You don’t take someone’s life over toothpaste.”

Mary Mitchell, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, called it. I know black Chicago is calling it far worse:

The Chicago Police Department is treating the death as “accidental.”

But calling what happened to Kyser accidental sets a dangerous precedent. While I don’t have any sympathy for thieves, we can’t have store employees running after and choking shoplifters to death.

If the Chicago Police Department appears to sanction such a drastic response, there will likely be more tragic “accidents.”

According to statistics from the National Learning & Resource Center, more than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers. Twenty-five percent of shoplifters are kids.

And shoplifting has long been used by addicts to raise money needed for drugs.

That certainly appears to be the case with Kyser, an unemployed barber.

Kyser’s family described him as being “up and down” and having had a drug problem, including drug convictions.

Obviously, the Chicago Police Department doesn’t want to penalize the store’s employee for trying to stop a thief.

But even trained police officers have rules governing when they can use deadly force.

Given the city’s spike in violence, police officers are obviously needed to respond to gun crimes.

Still, Kyser did not hide a bomb on a store shelf. He did not try to rob cashiers or store customers at gunpoint.

If he had done any one of those things, I could understand how a courageous CVS employee felt compelled to chase Kyser all the way into an alley.

But Kyser allegedly stole toothpaste — a penny-ante crime that shows how low an addict can sink.

Except for the tragic consequences, the store employee’s response could have been a scene out of the movies Paul Blart: Mall Cop or Observe and Report.

CVS employees should not be chasing shoplifters into the street. The first time someone is injured, and it turns out that person is innocent of any wrongdoing, lawyers are going to have a field day.

I don’t like thieves any more than the next person.

But it should not be open season on petty crooks.

This tragic incident sends the message that when it comes to suspected shoplifters, store employees have the right to take matters into their own hands.

That’s an attitude the police can ill afford.

We are not a city of vigilantes.

We are a city of laws.

No, not in this case, or in cases like it.

I’ve heard of black men getting ten-year stretches for stealing a loaf of bread (not in the 1930s, but within the past couple of decades), but this is more than uncalled for. The man was gasping for breath and struggling because he could not breathe. He was struggling because they were tightening their grips on him. Those men and the murderer were not in danger, although Kyser had punched the manager. Kyser was unarmed. This is murder condoned by the cops on behalf of a corporate entity.

Boycott CVS.

Don’t go in there.

Don’t consider working there.

If you are working there, take your time doing stuff for a while.

Do a slo-mo strike on your own terms.

Go to a competitor.

Go to the next town, if possible.

Why? Because CVS kills shoplifters. They kill black men.

Make it hurt.

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~ by blksista on May 12, 2010.

9 Responses to “Boycott CVS Pharmacy: They Choke Shoplifters to Death”

  1. Listen it was petty theft not armed robbery here. The manager should be held accountable. This is not right, hes a human being that had a family not some dog off the street. The manager is a disgrace and I wish him a life of angst. I beleive that justice always prevails, one way or another this manager will get his due.


  2. Lol!!! I’m clapping here for some justice. He had convictions for burglary and drugs, “but he had a good heart”. Ha! What about any person out there who either got addicted, or enabled for what he did? What about those people that worked hard for what they got and then he committed theft? If this was a guy who randomly shoplifted it’s one thing. Obviously he’s gone on his entire life thinking he can just grab what he wants. Did he learn his lessons after each of the other charges? No. After this one he was still gonna go on and steal probably… He had money problems? We ALL have money problems. I want to see you put your family and future on the line and open up a store, pay for the area, the lights, the water, the items, the workers, all those things in a recession, then every day people come in and just take things. You buy thousand dollar worth cameras, security, secret shoppers, and still can’t catch them all. I want to see you work in a chain store, the hours get cut, your store being closed, because all the $5-$10 dollars across thousands of stores means the companies have to lower their budget. I want to see you go from full time to part time, your kid get sick, and your health insurance is gone.

    I could almost see it if someone has a clean record but stole something, but this is someone who took and took and kept playing his luck. Guess what, you pulled the short straw. What? Was everyone just supposed to keep letting him do all the things he did for all his life? He was not some mild-mannered man who was just like, “Oh I’m sorry, I’ll stand here while the cops get here”. For all you know the guy stopping him there meant he wouldn’t go on to steal something precious from someone, or give the little piece of drug that overdoses/gets someone addicted later on once he ran into more “money problems”.

    And yes, everyone has the right to protect their property and themselves. Let him run and the police settle it? This wasn’t a case of “maybe he stole” he DID steal, and was trying to get away. If I see someone breaking into my car I’m supposed to just go, “oh, I guess I’ll stand here across from the street and hope the cops get on time”. Pfft, the lowlife is getting a rock slammed across his head.

    This has nothing to do with race. I’m not white. And I’ve worked retail, including pharmacies, and contrary to what people say, more than 85% of the theft we’ve caught on camera/all the measures were white people. (I think we got like 138 people that year). The pictures wall was basically all white with a few black and darker dots. And the few ones who were black/immigrant/latino were almost all teenagers-early twenties, whereas almost all of the white ones were 30+, meaning the ethnic ones were teenage misjudgment while the white ones were fully aware of what they were doing. That whole year only 1 adult black person was caught.

    This has to do with a crime being a crime. We can’t go like, “It’s only $5”, that’s like saying it’s okay to throw a bubblegum wrapper on the street because it’s only one. If cops/society didn’t let the small crimes pass like it’s not worth bothering about, then the problem wouldn’t be so big. If you’ve worked retail you know that it’s not like someone steal something once a week. stores lose at least $50 a day in merchandise in middle traffic area (convenience stores), that’s almost $17 thousand a year. Imagine what that means to an independent store owner? We can’t judge him for the crime of all of them? Trust me, the only reason all of them don’t get the same treatment is because they can’t catch them all.

    It’s a very naive and innocent view to think that stores need to just let them go. $5-10 dollars isn’t nothing. Petty doesn’t mean worthless. That’s probably an hour’s worth of the persons work that day. Someone got up, got dressed, went to work in an environment where all the customers think they’re kind, and endured it for an hour. In retail I’ve faces spit in my face, cursing, a knife, a gun, sexual harassment, racism, all that for $10 dollars. And he thinks he’s above that?

    Like I said, I’m not white, and the pharmacy I worked at, neither were my coworkers, and you should’ve seen the faces on the people when we got them arrested. Some of the older white folks horrified from the embarrassment (I’ve even had a shoplifter try to “associate with a white cop” like the cop was going to be like, “Yeah I can’t believe this person thinks he can get YOU in trouble”, the ethnic folks hoping i’d “give them a break”. Justice might not be colorblind in this society, but crime is. Theft is theft. Even if Petty.


    • I guess you’d like us to go back to the days of Hammurabi, when people were legally killed for theft. Where in Saudi Arabia today, you lose a hand for theft or are killed for having pre- or extra-marital sex.

      Sorry, but today is today. There is no reason whatsoever to choke murder someone for stealing $5.00 worth of stuff that I could have bought out of boredom.


  3. WOW..
    There is so much to say and where to start..idk. I understand where some of the individuals are coming from, but he was my uncle and now I don’t have one anymore. HE made an irrational and stupid decision to steal TOOTHPASTE AND CRAYONS..why?..idk. I cannot tell anyone why he made that decision, but he did it and what the manager did was WRONG. There is no probable cause or antthing justifyable towards this situation. I feel that restraining him until the police got to the scene would be necessary. Instead of choking him there are otehr ways to restrain someone, especially when they are pleading for their life. It’s one thing if Anthony had a gun, or was trying to hurt the manager, but he wasn’t. NOW..the police officer should have seen the harm done to my uncle in his pleads, and she should have taken action. BUT she didn’t, and with her lack of discretion my uncle is deceased. I know what he did was wrong, but it still didn’t have to come to this. I don’t feel this is a racial circumstance, maybe it is, but the situation is…is that for a petty theft my RIFT RAFT TIO IS DEAD.
    OKay NATIONAL GUARD I don’t care what color my tio was or what not he wasn’t a drug dealer he had money issues. The economy sucks ass, and you can’t sit here and act all bad because white people aer just as bad. Black people just get caught, and the white people are selling drugs while their rich and all that. So don’t go there. Yeah lets do one choke hold at a time, and see where this country comes down to..i uncle may have done something pathetic, but all of you RIFTRAFTS are just as bad. The only difference is you have money, and a better lifestyle. Ridiculous..


  4. so how do we get the rift raft off the street who don’t want to work? i wonder what it’s like to work in the public sector and fear going to work because some hood rat thinks it is okay to stick up a store, a bank, do a home invasion, a car jacking that can happen to anyone(i know because it happened to me.) low lifers who couldn’t afford to pay attention in free public education. now we have to deal with them because the only skill they have is intimidation. they want to use guns to hurt and kill, but try to get these low budget low lifes to join the military where they would get paid to have a free weapon to kill the real enemy and at the same time learn a skill and get money to further their ecucation and what would their answer be? hale no. too much money is spent on prisons. like i said before, get rid of rift raft one choke hold at a time. keep civilans safe one chokehold at a time. the cvs clerk did overstep his boundries and so did the person who went in the store to steal. he disrespected himself. was he on drugs to steal such petty items? blame the white man for everything. drugs eat up brain cells, yet it doesn’t stop the brotha man from selling to his own kind. what a joke. boycott cvs? for what? how about boycott all drug dealers on the corner who sell to our sistahs and brothas? you can’t and you won’t.


    • So you would condone murder of lawbreaking civilians engaging in petty theft rather than give them over to the law?

      It’s not like the guy had a gat and tried to burn the cashiers. And even if he did, he still didn’t deserve choking.

      Try choking someone who may have been shoplifting yourself, and see where it takes you. I don’t know where your behind lives, but I doubt whether you would skip the way this manager may have.

      Don’t even go there about rock dealers. These are two different issues. They may have linkage, but it’s not the same.

      People who talk too way damn big have a highly demonstrable lack of common sense. And I can see that in the way you write, too. The Universe help us if there are fifty National Guardspeople as unethical as you.


  5. It’s funny how someone black can never “accidentally” bring harm to a white person, let alone “accidentally kill” them. Once the shoplifter left the premises, it was strictly a matter for the police, not the store murderer–I mean, manager.


  6. Chicago is out of control. Yes it’s sad that he died, but when does it stop with the petty thievery? He could have went into a shelter to get those things for free. He could have went to the salvation army, talk to a principal at a school. The crime and killing is so out of control in chicago that they have asked for help from the National Guard. I am in the National Guard. I’d rather fight in Afghanistan and Iraq than to take on some low budget hoodrats without a conscience for their own people. It appears as if these scalawags feel that they can shoot to kill innocent victims and steal what they want when they want. They have no idea what it means to have consequences. Slavery was over with a long time ago, yet we still have people with the slave mentality. When will they learn how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? when will they stop asking for handouts and ask for a hand?! they can’t and they won’t because life is too good &easy by stealing from those who have worked hard for theirs. Selling and using drugs? Another topic that is too long to get into here. Did the employee do an overkill? yes, especially when it all boils down, that store doesn’t give a rats azz about him. did he do it on purpose? no. He got caught up in the adrenalline rush, hence we now have a deceased victim. Why is it that petty thieves think it is okay to mess up someones day at their job? oyeah that’s right; many petty thieves haven’t a clue on what it’s like to have a job serving the public sector. They don’t know what it’s like to serve the customers then have a customer pull out a gun. Petty thieves mess it up for everyone. petty thieves have stollen millions in merchandise one toothpaste and one crayon box at a time. So how do we get rid of the riftraft walking our streets and ruining the life of innocent victims? One chokehold at a time.


    • There is NO-NONE-NADA justification for a civilian or the police or the National Guard to take the law into their own hands and murder others: out of racism, out of anger, out of adrenaline.


      All the store manager needed to do was to back off and stop choking the man. But he had to keep on. All he needed to do was to wait for the cops to come to take the man away.

      The store manager is a murderer. Not judge or jury. His ass needs to be in jail right now.

      Yall been watching too many vigilante movies and cop shows. That is not real life. Yall are not Superman. Yall don’t have a license to kill. For toothpaste and crayons?

      The cops CONDONE MURDER of civilians when they don’t slap the cuffs on this guy.

      And like Mary Mitchell says, this is a dangerous precedent. Any fool with less than an ounce of common sense will think s/he’s justified in blowing someone away or putting an illegal chokehold on him that s/he simply thinks is stealing from a store.

      Like the Native Americans said, white men think of nothing but blowing people away instead of truly fortifying their hearts for battle . The battle is never with an adversary, but with themselves.


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