AG Dana Nessel credits WXYZ-TV with pushing for justice in Cochran case

Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 22:35:48-04

(WXYZ) — On Jan. 27, 2014, McKenzie Cochran, 25, of Ferndale, was at Northland mall in Southfield. Security video showed he visited the LA Diamonds store. The owner noticed Cochran returned the next day, Jan. 28, and called security after Cochran reportedly told the owner “he wanted to kill someone." The owner said he spoke to Cochran because he looked angry while staring at him from the front of the store.

Two security guards initially responded to the store. One of the guards, who died in 2017, maced Cochran after he approached the security guard with clenched fists. That action led to the two security guards attempting to restrain Cochran on the ground. Three additional security guards responded and took part in restraining Cochran in order to handcuff him.

Video evidence shows Cochran remained face down with his arms under his body while the five security guards restrained him.

Witnesses at the mall, and subsequent interviews with the guards involved, reported hearing Cochran say he couldn’t breath during the restraint.

Once handcuffed, the guards noticed Cochran was unresponsive and contacted EMS. Attempts to revive him at the mall were unsuccessful. Cochran was declared deceased shortly after being transported to a nearby hospital.

Several months following his death, in Sept. 2014, the Oakland County Prosecutor declined to bring criminal charges against any of the involved guards. In early 2020, Cochran’s family requested the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office take a second look at the case. The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office requested the Department conduct a fresh review. As part of the Department’s review, its Public Integrity Unit (PIU) conducted additional work, interviewed additional witnesses and obtained additional evidence leading to the charges.

Following the Department's review, former Northland Security Guards Lucius Hamilton, John Seiberling, Gaven King, and Aaron Maree are charged with the following in Oakland County’s 46th District Court:

  •  one count each of involuntary manslaughter, a fifteen-year felony. 

King and Sieberling were arraigned Wednesday afternoon and given a $2,500 personal recognizance bond, GPS tether and ordered to have no contact with other defendants in the case.

Hamilton and Maree were expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

Given both cases remain active, the Department will not be releasing additional materials or evidence related to the investigations.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, speaking for the first time Thursday after the charges were announced, thanked WXYZ reporter Simon Shaykhet for "not giving up on the McKenzie Cochran case."

The Cochran family released the following statement after the charges were announced:

“The Cochran family is overwhelmed with joy and hope at this moment. Joy because the individuals who caused McKenzie’s death are finally being held accountable. Overwhelmed with hope that this is a continued step towards change and justice for McKenzie. We are thankful for what the AG and the Southfield police chief has done thus far. Those two persons as well as others rooted out a system that was broken seven years ago. They saw a wrong and made a commitment to make it right. Their actions were able to stop us from being tired of injustice.”

George Gostias, who is the attorney for one of the security guards, Gaven King, released the following statement to 7 Action News:

“My client and his family are in absolute disbelief today that Michigan's attorney general would ressurect a seven year old incident where Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper issued a lengthy report, complete with the analysis of experts, that indicated there was absolutely zero evidence that my client caused or contributed to the death of Mr. Cochran. The timing of these charges is extremely disturbing considering both The absolute lack of evidence and the upcoming reelection campaign of attorney General Nessel.”