Four guards to face trial in 2014 death of man at a Detroit-area shopping mall

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) — Four security guards blamed for the death of a man during a struggle at a Detroit-area mall in 2014 will face trial on involuntary manslaughter charges, a judge said Wednesday.

Judge Shelia Johnson said there was enough evidence to send the case to trial, a low threshold at this stage of the case.

McKenzie Cochran, 25, struggled with security guards and was hit with pepper spray at the now-closed Northland Center mall in Southfield, after a jewelry store owner said he had made threats. He was trapped on the ground and handcuffed before dying of compression asphyxiation.

The Oakland County prosecutor at the time, Jessica Cooper, declined to file charges, saying the guards had no intent to harm Cochran.

But the Michigan attorney general's office reopened the investigation and filed charges in 2021, more than seven years later, against Lucius Hamilton, John Seiberling, Gaven King and Aaron Maree. They have pleaded not guilty.

Cochran’s death got renewed attention in 2020 during a local race for prosecutor and amid outrage over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police. Cochran was also Black.