The medical examiner ruled Anthony Kyser, 35, died of strangulation. He was allegedly trying to steal 5 or 6 tubes of toothpaste from the CVS pharmacy. Police are calling his death an accident and said they do not have enough evidence to charge the store employee.
Kyser's ex-wife, Ann Marie Babloa, admits Kyser has a criminal past, but questions why a struggle with a store manger went that far.
"Was it worth it? Was it worth chasing someone for toothpaste?" said Balboa. "Yeah, it was wrong what he did, but what if somebody had a gun and took you out?"
Police said the death is considered accidental and there are no plans to charge the employee, who chased the suspect out of the store and into an alley.
CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis said in an e-mail, "We are investigating this unfortunate incident and are fully cooperating with police. The employee who was involved will not return to the store until our investigation is complete."
Peter Chavos said he saw the attack on Kyser.
"They beat him up bad. I don't know what to tell you," said Peter Chavos.
Another witness, Rocio Pena, told ABC7 several individuals beat up Kyser, who was crying for help. She said they kept beating him. She also said she saw five or six tubes of toothpaste on the ground.
"(It was) murder? He was pleading for his life," said Balboa.
Police news affairs officials determined that an off-duty Cook County correctional officer was on the scene and assisted the CVS employee by calling 911. The officer remained ont eh scene until the ambulance arrived.
Video from the scene does not show the officer pointing a weapon at any time. That officer has cooperated fully with detectives, officials said.
The investigation remains classified as accidental in nature. No criminal charges have been filed.