The 2014 death of a Michigan man who died following a struggle with mall security guards — during which he said “I can’t breathe” — will be reviewed, the state’s attorney general said.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday that her office will review the death of McKenzie Cochran, a 25-year-old black man from Ferndale who died after a confrontation with security staff at the Northland Mall in Southfield.
The case, which was initially investigated by Southfield police and Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, led to no criminal charges filed against three mall security officers involved in Cochran’s arrest, Nessel said.
Charges were not filed against the security officers — two of whom were white — because they were poorly trained and did not intend to harm Cochran.
But both Southfield police and Cooper have since requested Nessel to review Cochran’s January 2014 death, which was captured on cellphone video, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“My office will conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of this case to determine whether any additional action should have been taken in response to Mr. Cochran’s death,” Nessel said in a statement. “If the evidence warrants additional action, we will make efforts to ensure justice is served.”
Cochran died after being pinned to the floor by the guards for five minutes, during which he said “I can’t breathe” as one of the security staffers straddled him, the Free Press reports.
Cochran’s relatives have long sought charges in his death, but authorities only considered taking a second look last week amid demands by protesters who are calling for change in the aftermath of George Floyd’s police-custody death in Minneapolis, the newspaper reports.
Cochran, who passed away one hour after his arrest, died from compression asphyxiation, an autopsy found. A coroner ruled his death to be accidental, according to the Free Press.
Southfield police said had Cochran threatened a clerk at a jewelry store at the now-closed mall, allegedly telling a worker he wanted to kill someone. But cops did not find him in possession of a weapon, the newspaper reports.
More than six years after his death, Cochran still deserves justice, his brother said, while calling for charges of assault or involuntary manslaughter against the security guards.
“Something needs to be done,” Michael Cochran, a former police officer, told the newspaper. “I just don’t see how you cannot hold someone accountable for taking someone’s life. My brother did not get justice.”
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