According to police, McKenzie Cochran and a companion had been at the Northland Mall on Monday and, according to mall personnel, were 'acting suspiciously' outside of LA Diamond. (Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News)
Southfield — An autopsy conducted Wednesday by the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office determined there were no signs of trauma on the body of a man who died after being pepper sprayed by security guards at Northland Mall a day earlier.
“There were no signs of trauma on the deceased,” according to a statement released by the Southfield Police Department. “Toxicology tests have been conducted to determine whether or not drugs or alcohol played any role in the death of McKenzie Cochran. Results of those tests will not be available for several weeks.”
A resident of Ferndale, Cochran died Tuesday following a scuffle at a Southfield mall during which he was pepper-sprayed by security guards, police said. The mall general manager said Cochran, 25, made threatening statements and became combative after he was approached by security.
On Wednesday, attorney Gerald Thurswell said Cochran was both 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.”
Thurswell also said that Cochran had no weapons on him at the time of the incident.
Lt. Nick Louissa said police were called to the mall at about 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday because of a struggle with an individual and security guards at the mall.
“When officers arrived, the individual was in a seated position on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back,” Louissa said. “He had a pulse but was not breathing. Our paramedics were on the way, and we asked them to speed it up.”
According to Louissa, officers assisted in treating Cochran at the scene before he was transported to Providence Hospital, which is nearby.
“Unfortunately, he was pronounced deceased at 8:40 p.m. We are conducting a complete and thorough investigation; all security personnel and the store owner have been identified and interviewed.”
According to police, Cochran and a companion had been at the Northland Mall on Monday and, according to mall personnel, were “acting suspiciously” outside of a LA Diamond.
“The store owner asked if he could be of assistance and the pair left the area,” Louissa said. “The store owner said they showed up again the next day, returned to the store and were again acting suspiciously. When the owner asked if he needed anything, the deceased said he ‘wanted to kill somebody.’ The store owner contacted mall security who responded and attempted to interview the subject and a struggle ensued, and he was pepper sprayed.”
LA Diamond was closed on Thursday.
Louissa confirmed initial reports showed no signs of blunt force trauma to the body. The Southfield Police Department is asking anyone who witnessed/recorded the incident to contact them at (248) 796-5500 to help further the investigation.
Louissa declined to say whether police had any previous contact with Cochran, but did say the police department has made numerous runs to Northland Mall, mostly over reports of retail fraud.
A worker at the mallsaid Thursday he saw Cochran shortly before the incident andhe was not behaving irrationally. The worker, who did not want to be identified, said he thought Cochran was at the mall exercising.
The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality issued a statement after the incident saying it was a “brutal and insensitive attack” and “only the latest in a series of altercations between mall security and African American youth.”
“It is unfortunate that we arrive once again at this position, where parents and relatives are grieving,” spokesman Ron Scott said. “Northland Mall must acknowledge the wrongdoing of their security officers and take proactive steps to address any deficits which may exist in their training or actions.”
The coalition also offered its sincere condolences to the family of McKenzie Cochran and that it would support the family’s efforts to secure justice.
Oralandar Brand-Williams contributed to this report.