Another day, another unarmed black man dead. This time, at the hands of rent-a-cops who, as a result, will not be facing criminal charges.
McKenzie Cochran, 25, died at the Southland Mall in January, a day after he’d been asked to leave the building because of what was described as “suspicious behavior.” Cochran returned and reportedly told a worker at a jewelry store in the mall that he wanted to kill someone. The worker naturally called security, and when Cochran wouldn’t leave, the guards pepper sprayed him and restrained him.
The struggle went on for several minutes, with three officers holding him down, one using his knee in McKenzie’s back. A video of the incident shows McKenzie saying “I can’t breathe.” He even asked bystanders to call 911, saying that he was “dying.”
These cries for help were met with “stop resisting” from the guard. The guard repeated it several times.
Perhaps it should surprise nobody at this point, but he ended up dying as a result. The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death an accident in March, and called the cause of death “position compression asphyxia.” Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Cheryl Loewe went so far as to say that “the security guards were doing their jobs” and that they were “acting appropriately.” She added that “no purposeful act” was involved.
And while she acknowledged that mistakes were made (that’s the classic example of the passive voice, by the way; “mistakes were made”), the county prosecutor for Oakland County, Jessica Cooper, said on Thursday that there wasn’t any proof of criminal intent.
This is not an issue of whether these security guards were negligent. It’s whether they were criminally negligent.
Cooper added that the guards weren’t trained to properly restrain Cochran. The security officers did call police, but because the dispatcher didn’t get the correct location in the mall, the police were late by about 10 minute.
Ron Scott, the spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, addressed Cochran’s death on Thursday:
I don’t know what an accident is, when you’ve got the knee in the back, compresses the chest cavity, which most police departments do not do, and security do not do, and then you say, ‘He caused his own death by resisting,’
The family’s attorney, Gerald Thurswell, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the Cochran family against the mall, the individual guards, and the security company, IPC International. However, as he noted, it’s no substitute for criminal charges.
My mind goes back to an incident that happened about three weeks ago, when a man in Costa Mesa ran around with a knife screaming “White power!” He brandished the knife and threatened several individuals.
He did not get pepper sprayed nor did he suffer “position compression asphyxia,” despite struggling with police.
At this point, you’re a special kind of stupid if you still can’t see how hostile our justice system is to African-Americans in general and African-American males in particular.
You can watch the video of the incident below: