McKenzie Cochran, a 25-year-old Black man screamed “I can’t breathe” six times in Northland Center Mall in Southfield, Michigan after he’d been forcefully detained by three security guards. Cochran died at the hands of those guards. According to reports, the security guards sprayed him with pepper spray in order to subdue Cochran. What’s worse is that the guards responded to Cochran’s urgent cry for help with, “If you can talk, you can breathe.”
Southfield Police say Cochran was seen outside a store a couple of days ago and had revisited the store Tuesday evening. The owner felt uncomfortable and called for the mall security. You know, because people don’t go to stores more than once. Northland Center Mall General Manager Brent Reetz says Cochran was loitering outside the LA Jewelry store and personnel were concerned. Local news reported that someone from the store claimed Cochran verbally threatened them. Hmmm…
Security went to talk to Cochran and they claimed he wasn’t compliant. A struggle began between the guards and Cochran, then they all held him down. From the video, it looks as if one officer is holding down his legs, another is holding down his head and the other is holding him down at his torso, but it was the pepper spray that obstructed Cochran’s breathing.
Shortly after the officer’s nasty and inhuman reply to Cochran’s claims he couldn’t breathe, he passed out. That’s when the guards called for backup and paramedics. By the time the Southfield Police arrived, Cochran had a pulse, but was not responsive. He was transported to Providence hospital where he died.
The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Cochran’s death an accident in March, naming the cause of death as position compression asphyxia.
“This is not an issue of whether these security guards were negligent,” Cooper said, according to the Detroit News. “It’s whether they were criminally negligent.”