- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) - The January death of a 25-year-old man following a confrontation with security guards at a suburban Detroit shopping mall was accidental, a medical examiner has ruled.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s office made the determination in the death of McKenzie Cochran, the Detroit Free Press reported (https://on.freep.com/OkBFTD ), and the autopsy found that the cause of death was position compression asphyxia.

“The security guards were doing their jobs … acting appropriately,” according to Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Cheryl Loewe, who said “no purposeful act” was involved.

When asked to clarify the cause of death, Loewe said it was a result of “body position with a possible component of compression.”

Lawyer Gerald Thurswell, who is representing Cochran’s family in an $800 million lawsuit, disputes the determination that the death was accidental. He cited video aired by Detroit TV stations shows guards restraining a person identified as Cochran saying he can’t breathe.

The security guards at Northland Mall “put him on the ground, they crushed his chest to the ground and caused him to be asphyxiated. They killed him,” Thurswell said. “They executed him, they really did. They became the judge and jury, and they executed him.”

Detectives were awaiting autopsy results as part of their investigation. Southfield police said they’ll now send the case to the Oakland County prosecutor’s office for review.

Southfield police interviewed witnesses and guards at Northland Mall after Cochran died Jan. 28. Investigators were awaiting autopsy results. Cochran was pepper-sprayed and restrained by at least three guards after a shop owner felt threatened and called for help.

Cochran was treated at the scene by police and paramedics and was pronounced dead later at a Southfield hospital.

The Cochran family’s lawsuit, filed in Oakland County Circuit Court against the guards, their employers and the mall’s owner, alleges that the guards beat, choked, strangled and battered Cochran while keeping him pinned down and preventing him from breathing.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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