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Bobby Rush Requests Special Prosecutor in CVS Strangling Case

By  Alex Parker  and Erin Meyer | January 18, 2013 6:30pm 

CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) has asked Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans to appoint a special prosecutor after new evidence surfaced in the death of a homeless man strangled to death by a CVS manager in 2010.

A video obtained by DNAinfo.com Chicago captured the death of Anthony Kyser, 35, who allegedly stole crayons and toothpaste from a Little Village CVS, after a scuffle with the manager in an alley outside the store.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death a homicide. But police decided it was an accident and no criminal charges were filed.

“From the time that the CPD closed its criminal investigation into this matter, dark clouds and a strong stench have hung heavily over this case,” Rush said in a letter delivered to Evans Friday. “Based on chilling video evidence, which is now in the public domain and easily accessed on the Internet, these clouds are far darker and the stench is much more putrid.”

Rush said it’s “imperative” a special prosecutor “without ties to any City of Chicago or Cook County law enforcement agencies” be appointed to investigate the police department’s reasons for closing the case. Rush said he sent a letter to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in 2010 “demanding action” regarding Kyser’s death, but never heard back.

Evans’ office declined to comment, saying the Illinois Judicial Code of Conduct prohibits him from commenting about issues “that currently are or may come before any court.”

The video shows Kyser fleeing to the alley with the store manager close behind him. There's a brief struggle before Kyser hits the pavement, with the store manager on top of him.

Another man appears to punch and kick Kyser, at one point stepping down on his hand while the store manager remains atop Kyser. More bystanders join in, helping to hold Kyser down. Eventually, Kyser stops flailing his legs, the video shows.

In court filings in a pending 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. CVS representatives said the company cannot comment on pending litigation.

Earlier this month, after a special prosecutor indicted R.J. Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, for involuntary manslaughter, a DuPage County judge was installed to oversee the trial after concerns Cook County judges would be not be impartial.

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.