FERNDALE, Mich. - McKenzie Cochran was a mamma's boy.
"I was in the kitchen. I was doing some cooking, he said, 'Where are your house shoes?' He went and got my house shoes for me," said his mother.
That was Tuesday morning, the last memory Teresa Cochran has of her 25-year-old son. The next time she would see his face was later that evening when Southfield police showed up to her home in Ferndale.
"To identify him from a photo is quite heartbreaking. No parent wants to bury their children," she said.
Police say a jewelry store owner inside the Northland Mall called security after he became suspicious of McKenzie. There was an altercation between McKenzie and security officers in which one of the officers pepper sprayed him. Bystanders started recording cellphone video as McKenzie fell to the ground.
"You can hear McKinsey say, 'I can't breathe. I can't breathe, I can't breathe," said his mother.
By the time EMS arrived McKenzie was unconscious. Paramedics in the video are shown trying to bring him back, but they couldn't. Doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.
His mom has hired an attorney. Gerald Thurswell believes after the pepper spray it was the security officers that kept McKenzie from being able breathe.
"They may very well have had the right to pepper spray him," said Thurswell. "But they didn't realize the effects. Maybe they weren't trained or maybe they forgot pepper spray is going to cause difficulty breathing. Not only did he have difficulty breathing but then they threw him on the ground. He's on his chest and then one of the security guards puts his knee on his back, compressing his chest against the ground."
Teresa Cochran can't understand why they used such force on her unarmed son.
"He didn't have a gun and he didn't have a knife. What was the purpose of that? What they did that day?" said Teresa.
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