Police Chief, Mayor speak publicly about man's death during encounter with mall security guards

SOUTHFIELD (WXYZ) - Southfield Police arrived just eight minutes after security guards made their first call for help. The second call made by a guard was requesting a medic for 25-year-old McKenzie Cochran who had been pepper sprayed, then held down by guards and was no longer responsive, according to Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins.

On Monday, Chief Hawkins and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence spoke publicly about the case for the first time, hoping to convey the message that the investigation into allegations of excessive force by security guards caused Cochran's death.

On cell phone video, Cochran can be seen laying flat on his stomach with guards holding him down. Cochran can also be heard, repeatedly, telling security guards, "I can't breathe."

Witnesses say, at first, there were just three guards holding Cochran down after he had been pepper sprayed, but before it was over there were five to six guards holding the Ferndale man down as he appeared to be struggling to breathe.

Chief Hawkins could not say if Cochran was already unconscious when guards propped him up against a wall.

Security guards had not administered any sort of first aid despite Cochran appearing unconscious while handcuffed and leaning against the wall in a seated position.

On January 28, employees inside L.A. Diamonds called security guards after Cochran reportedly made a verbal threat to kill someone.

Chief Hawkins would not say what, if anything, Cochran did when security guards arrived to cause one of the guards to use his pepper spray.

"These detectives will comply with my mandate that all investigations, whether it's a loss of life or petty theft, are handled fairly, impartially and without bias. This investigation will be no different," said Chief Hawkins.

Mayor Lawrence told reporters, "in the city of Southfield we want everyone to feel safe in this community. And one of the ways you feel safe is knowing that you have a police department that will take every incident and investigate it and make sure that we get the person, if there is a crime committed."

Southfield Police are waiting for toxicology test results to complete the medical examiner's part of the investigation before forwarding their case to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office for review.

Mayor Lawrence said she, personally, offered condolences to Cochran's family.


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