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Nine years later, former Northland Mall security guards face trial in death of McKenzie Cochran

head shot of Dana Nessel
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

Four former private security guards face criminal charges in the 2014 death of McKenzie Cochran at the Northland Mall.

According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Cochran reportedly told the owner of a jewelry store in the mall that he "wanted to kill someone," and he later approached security guards with "clenched fists" when they arrived at the scene.

"Video evidence shows Cochran remained face down with his arms under his body" while security guards restrained him, Nessel said. "Witnesses at the mall, and subsequent interviews with the guards involved, reported hearing Cochran say he couldn’t breathe during the restraint."

Cochran was declared dead after being transported to a hospital.

Lucius Hamilton, John Seiberling, Gaven King, and Aaron Maree were bound over to the Oakland County Circuit Court to face one count each of Involuntary Manslaughter. A fifth security guard — the one who initially engaged with Cochran — died in 2017.

Cochran's death caused widespread community anger when then-Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper declined to press charges.

In early 2020, Cochran's family asked Cooper to take a second look at the case. Six years after her initial decision not to charge, Cooper asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to review the case.

"It has been clear through our review of this case that justice would require criminal charges and a trial,” Nessel said in a press release. "I am grateful for the efforts of the family ... and the diligent work of the prosecutors in my department, to bring this case to trial despite the intervening years.”

Hamilton, Seiberling, King, and Maree will appear next before the Oakland County Circuit Court for a pre-trial conference at a date not yet determined.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.