An incident at a Detroit mall between a 24-year-old man and the mall’s security guards resulted in his death earlier this week.
It all started on Monday when 24-year-old McKenzie Cochran was standing outside of jewelry store at the mall and was approached by security guards who thought he looked suspicious. Cochran was asked to leave, and he did, but the next day, he returned to the same spot near the store enraged.
According to reports, the owner of the jewelry store approached Cochran and asked him what was wrong. Cochran reportedly said he wanted to kill someone, and that’s when security guards again became involved. Allegedly fearing for their safety, the guards pepper-sprayed Cochran and placed him in hand cuffs. A bystander captured the ordeal on cell phone video.
According to Cochran’s family’s attorney Gerald Thurswell, Cochran was “saying he couldn’t breathe and they held him down until he died.”
“You have a person on the ground, you have your knee on his back. You essentially are chiding the man when he’s asking to breathe,” said Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. “Essentially, this was barbaric, odious and despicable. It’s one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of inhumanity and a lack of professionalism in that process. From this video, it appears to me there was criminal culpability.”
“Security guards are not police officers,” continued Scott. “They are supposed to call law enforcement officials as necessary, but they are not supposed to engage in activity which enhances the possibility of escalation of violence. There was no basis with three individuals standing over one person, who was detained, to actually engage in this kind of barbaric activity. The citizens should be protected. This has happened to young people, especially to young African American people, quite a bit at Northland Mall and the mall needs to look at cleaning up its act and changing its behavior in terms of how they treat young people and people who may have mental illness.”
Cochran was pronounced dead at the hospital not long after the incident. An autopsy is currently being conducted, and although no charges have yet to be filed, Cochran’s family has hired an attorney.