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AG to review man’s Northland Center death

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published June 23, 2020

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SOUTHFIELD — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that her office will review a six-year-old case involving a man’s death after an altercation with security staff at the former Northland Center.

Nessel made the announcement June 16 in a press release that her office will review the 2014 death of McKenzie Cochran, 25, of Ferndale.

In a cellphone video that went viral in early 2014, Cochran can be seen being held down by Northland Center security personnel after an earlier altercation with the guards.

“I can’t breathe,” Cochran said repeatedly in the video.

Cochran died Jan. 28 en route to a hospital. His death was ruled accidental asphyxia by Ray Jankowski of the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“If you can talk, you can breathe,” one mall security guard reportedly said in reply to Cochran.

The case was investigated by the Southfield Police Department and was reviewed by Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who announced in a September 2014 press conference that no charges would be filed.

“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 the press release. “If the evidence warrants additional action, we will make efforts to ensure justice is served.”

Cooper said in the 2014 press conference that although the security guards at the shopping center were poorly trained, they were not trying to hurt Cochran.

Former Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins said the death of Cochran was influenced by the lack of training given to security guards, who were employed by a private security company.

Hawkins said previously that jewelry store employees said they were nervous of Cochran and they reportedly had asked him to leave. Hawkins also said Cochran reportedly made statements that he wanted to kill people, and that’s why security was called.

Once the security guards arrived, Hawkins said previously, there was a confrontation, which started verbally and then escalated to a physical altercation.

According to his obituary, Cochran was born in Detroit and attended Detroit Public Schools until his family relocated to Ferndale. He continued his education at Coolidge Intermediate School and Ferndale High School. Cochran, who served on his church’s usher board and sang in the choir, was described as having a “heart of gold.”

Cooper did not return a request for comment by press time.