SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – The family of a 25-year-old Ferndale man who died after a confrontation with security guards at Northland Center in Southfield will file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Therease Cochran says she’s devastated over the loss of her son who was pepper sprayed and restrained Tuesday at the shopping mall on Greenfield and 8 Mile roads.

She’s calling it murder.

According to reports, Cochran was “standing suspiciously” outside the LA Diamonds jewelry store on Monday and was asked to leave. He returned to the store on Tuesday, ”looking angry” through the showcase windows. The business owner apparently went to talk to Cochran and that’s when police say he threatened to kill someone. Cochran was reportedly “not cooperative” when security guards approached him.

Family attorney Gerald Thurswell said they believe Mckenzie Cochran was suffocated after the guards threw him to the ground. He said the victim can be heard on a cell phone video pleading for help.

“He cried out for help at least six times, from the video,”  Thurswell told WWJ’s Beth Fisher.

“When he’s telling them that he’s dying, he says, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Call 911, I can’t breathe, I’m dying’ — and they just keep that knee on his back, compressing his lungs and chest into the ground when he says he can’t breathe,”  Thurswell said. “That’s outrageous; that’s absolutely outrageous.”

“They never took the knee of his back until he had his respiratory arrest and died,” Thurswell said.

Thurswell said they plan to sue the security guards and the company.

A spokesman for Universal Services of America, the parent company for the mall security company, declined to comment.

According to police, Cochran’s body showed no signs of blunt trauma.

An autopsy was performed Wednesday, although a cause of death is still pending. Authorities are also awaiting toxicology results, and say it could be a couple of months before a cause of death is determined.

No charges have been filed.

MORE: Man Dies After Confrontation With Mall Security Guards


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