U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush has called for a special investigation into the death of Anthony Kyser, the 35-year-old homeless man who was choked to death by CVS store manager Pedro Villanova in May of 2010.
A little more than two years ago, Keyser's death became a symbol of the fine line between self-defense and excessive force when he was essentially murdered for shoplifting a tube of toothpaste. It caused many to re-examine not only what rights people have as it pertains to protecting their property, but also how differently we treat the deaths of homeless people and the rest of society.
The good folks at DNAInfo have obtained a grainy surveillance video of what precisely led to Kyser’s death on that fateful day. It depicts the homeless man running into an alley, getting caught by the store manager, and then hitting the ground before getting choked out. Furthermore, it also shows someone trying to punch and kick Kyser while the store manager is squeezing the life out of him.
Towards the end of the clip, you can clearly see the point at which Kyser stops struggling. (Warning: it’s obviously graphic.)
Police and medical personnel arrived on the scene relatively quickly, however, there was nothing they could do.
Kyser’s death was initially ruled a homicide by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, but police later determined it to be an accident and decided that criminal charges were not warranted.
According to DNA Info, the victim’s mother filed a lawsuit after the fact claiming “the store manager committed battery and that CVS is liable.” That suit is still working its way through the system.
Villanova obviously continues to maintain that he was acting in self-defense. In a deposition, he said that as soon as he was hit by Kyser “… 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."
Based on the video above, what do you think: was Villanova, who chased a shoplifter to retrieve a tube of stolen toothpaste, simply trying to defend himself?