Attorney General Nessel reopens ‘I can’t breathe’ case in Michigan amid George Floyd protests

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has reopened an investigation into the 2014 death of McKenzie Cochran, a 25-year-old Black man who was pinned down by five security officers at a Southfield mall as he gasped, “I can’t breathe.”

After an eight month investigation, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper declined to charge the security officers, saying they did not intend to kill Cochran at Northland Mall.



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Fast-forward to Memorial Day in Minneapolis, when George Floyd died while a cop kneeled on the side of his neck as Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe.”

Amid nationwide protests over Floyd’s death, Cooper and Southfield police asked Nessel to reopen the case against the mall security guards. Cochran’s family supports the decision.



“My office will conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of this case to determine whether any additional action should have been taken in response to Mr. Cochran’s death,” Nessel said in a news release. “If the evidence warrants additional action, we will make efforts to ensure justice is served.”

Cochran, who was unarmed, died of compression asphyxiation, according to an autopsy.

The confrontation began after mall security guards were called to the L.A. Diamonds store, where the clerk said Cochran was acting suspiciously and said he wanted to kill somebody. Cochran was pepper-sprayed, hand-cuffed, and held face down by security guards for nine minutes.


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