Southfield — A Ferndale man died Tuesday following a scuffle at a Southfield mall during which he was pepper-sprayed by security guards, police said.
Southfield police said a 25-year-old man was peppered sprayed by Northland Mall guards after a merchant told guards he was acting suspiciously. The mall general manager said the man made threatening statements and became combative after he was approached by security.
“When our officers responded, the individual had a pulse but was not breathing,” said Southfield police Lt. Nick Loussia. “The officers assisted paramedics in treating him and he was then transported to Providence Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m.”
An attorney for the familyidentified the man Wednesday as McKenzie Cochran, whom he said was 24. He said Cochranwas beaten and pepper-sprayed by Northland Mall guards.
“The security guards pepper sprayed him and they beat him up,” attorney Gerald Thurswell. “He was saying he couldn’t breathe and they held him down until he died.”
Loussia said there appeared to be no signs of blunt force trauma.
Brent Reetz, the mall general manager, said Cochran and his companion stood outside a jewelry store Monday.
They left, said Loussia, after the business owner asked if they needed help. Cochran returned to the store alone Tuesday, when the owner again asked if he needed help. “The business owner said the man replied, ‘I want to kill somebody,’ ” said Loussia.
The store owner then called security. The guards found the 25-year-old breathing heavily with fists clenched, said Loussia.
Reetz said the man became combative when security approached, prompting guards to use pepper spray and handcuff him. Loussia said paramedics and Southfield police were called when the man became unresponsive.
Mall security, the business owner and witnesses were interviewed and police were awaiting an autopsy by the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office. An investigation was ongoing, Loussia said.
Thurswell said a cellphone video shows the victim being restrained by the guards and that security would not permit a bystander to do CPR on the victim. He said the victim wasn’t carrying a weapon.
He said he’s waiting on the autopsy and toxicology reports, which may take three weeks.