Four security guards charged in 2014 death of man during struggle at Northland mall

Noelle Gray
The Detroit News

Four security guards have been charged in the 2014 death of a man they were attempting to restrain during an altercation at Northland Center mall, the office of Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.

Nessel's office said Lucius Hamilton, John Seiberling, Gaven King and Aaron Maree were to be arraigned Wednesday on involuntary manslaughter charges in 46th District Court in Southfield connected to the death of McKenzie Cochran.

King and Seiberling appeared for arraignments Wednesday afternoon. A personal bond of $2,500 was set for both men and the next court date for the pair was scheduled for Oct. 28 at 1:45 p.m., according to records. 

Hamilton and Maree were not in custody and had not been arraigned as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to court officials. 

The charges come after Nessel vowed in June 2020 that her office would review the Cochran case, which she noted had similarities to the Memorial Day 2020 death of George Floyd.

Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged four security guards in the 2014 death of McKenzie Cochran, which she has noted had similarities to the Memorial Day 2020 death of George Floyd. Nessel's office vowed in June 2020 that the case would be reviewed.

Cochran, 25, of Ferndale died from position compression asphyxia on the floor of the Northland shopping mall in Southfield on Jan. 28, 2014. Cochran, an African American, was asked to leave the mall after an employee reported he was acting suspiciously inside and outside a jewelry store.

In a subsequent struggle with guards, Cochran was pepper sprayed and pinned to the floor, during which he could be heard gasping, “I’m not resisting — I can’t breathe.”

The case was investigated by the Southfield Police Department and reviewed by former Oakland County prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who decided not to charge any of the security staff.

Cooper, in announcing her decision in September 2014, said findings "did not support that any officer tried to restrict (Cochran's) breathing by choking him."

"There was no intent to harm. They didn't hit him. They didn't place him in a chokehold," Cooper said at the time. 

Both the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office and Southfield Police Department later requested that Nessel's office review the case.

Cochran's family has been supportive of the review. After his death, Cochran's family filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit. That case was settled out of court. 

Nessel is expected to discuss the charges during a Thursday news conference in Detroit.