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Mall Security Guards Kill Unarmed Black Man in Detroit Suburb and Get Away With It

McKenzie Cochran

McKenzie Cochran

Apparently even mall security guards can kill an unarmed Black man and get away with it.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper announced this week that there was no proof of criminal intent in the death of McKenzie Cochran, 25, who died at the Northland Mall in the Detroit suburb of Southfield last January. So there will be no criminal charges brought against the mall security guards who caused his death.

The circumstances of the case were eerily reminiscent of the killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island. A day after Cochran had been asked to leave the mall by security guards because of his suspicious behavior, Cochran returned and reportedly told a worker at a jewelry store that he wanted to kill someone. When the worker called security, guards showed up and, when Cochran refused to leave, they pepper-sprayed and restrained him.

Three officers held him for several minutes on the ground, one with a knee in his back.

Witnesses caught the incident on their cell phone videos, which show Cochran crying out and saying, “I can’t breathe.”

He said he was dying and asked bystanders to call 911, but a guard kept repeating, “Stop resisting.”

Cochran died, and in March the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that the cause of death was position compression asphyxia.

This is not an issue of whether these security guards were negligent,” the prosecutor said, according to the Detroit News. “It’s whether they were criminally negligent.”

She said the guards weren’t trained to restrain Cochran properly. Local police had been called by the security guards, but it took 10 minutes for them to arrive because they had the wrong location in the mall.

“I don’t know what an accident is, when you’ve got the knee in the back, compresses the chest cavity, which most police departments do not do, and security do not do, and then you say, ‘He caused his own death by resisting,'” Ron Scott, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, told local media.

Cochran’s family’s attorney Gerald Thurswell has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Cochran’s family against the mall, the individual guards and the security company, IPC International. But he said it wasn’t a substitute for murder charges in the eyes of Cochran’s mother, according to the Huffington Post.

“The family was devastated,” Thurswell said. “Her son’s life was taken, a 25-year-old who didn’t do anything wrong at all, and the people who killed him are not being held accountable through the criminal justice system.”


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