Northland Mall death investigation handed to prosecutor's office

Published On: Mar 12 2014 12:12:01 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 12 2014 12:27:43 PM EDT

The Oakland County Prosecutor's Office will decide if criminal charges will be brought in the case of a 25-year-old man who died Jan. 28 after an altercation with security guards at Northland Mall in Southfield.

McKenzie Cochran was pepper-sprayed and restrained by guards after a jewelry store owner felt threatened and called for help. Cellphone video shows Cochran being restrained by security guards.

According to the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office, Cochran died from "position compression asphyxia."

More: Death at mall ruled accidental asphyxia

Forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz said pressure to Cochran's back while he was face down on the ground caused asphyxia.

"They put him face down on the ground, that is in prone position, face down, and then they applied pressure to his back and this led to his inability to breath, to expand his chest due to the pressure on him, and as a result of that he died," said Spitz.

The death has been ruled accidental, but Southfield police are forwarding an investigation along with the medical examiner's findings to the Prosecutor's Office.

No arrests have been made.

Family attorney: Mall guards not properly trained, supervised

Cochran's family hired attorney Gerald Thurswell who said the guards were not properly trained or supervised. He's filed a civil suit against the mall, the guards and the security company, asking for $800 million in damages.

But Teresa Cochran told Local 4 during an interview last month nothing is worth her son's life.

"To identify him from a photo is quite heartbreaking," said Teresa Cochran. "No parent wants to bury their children."


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