SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) - If 25-year-old McKenzie Cochran's struggle with Northland Center security guards had never been caught by cell phone, his mother may never have known what really happened to him said attorney Gerald Thurswell.
"It wasn't until the next day when the video appeared on TV that she realized exactly what had happened," said Thurswell.
Thurswell says police initially told McKenzie's mother something much different.
"They told her a story that he had fallen and hit his head," said Thurswell.
There had been no mention of three security guards holding her son face down on the ground after he had been pepper sprayed.
There was no mention of one of those security guards digging his knee into her son's back, and no mention that her son cried for help because he couldn't breathe.
"They can't understand... he was a sweet kid. He was a funny kid. He was just a nice boy," said Thurswell.
When Southfield Police arrived at the mall they said the Ferndale man wasn't breathing but he had a pulse. Later McKenzie was pronounced dead.
"You have the weight of the knee and then you have the inability to breathe because of the pepper spray," said Thurswell.
There is an ironic and sad twist we discovered that McKenzie's older brother is a police officer. He trains people on how to properly use pepper spray.
"He was absolutely outraged," said Thurswell. "He said to me, he said, didn't they get any training? What are they using pepper spray as if it's nothing?"
Thurswell said he will be filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of McKenzie's family.
"They actually killed him. They killed him," said Thurswell.