Guards charged in 2014 man's death, indicted Sterling Heights murder for hire suspect, soaring heating bills

McKenzie Cochran was 25 years old when he was pepper-sprayed, tackled to the ground, and pinned face down at the Northland Mall by security guards in 2014. He would later die as a result of the injury.

The security guards involved were not charged after the Oakland County prosecutor at the time said the guards were poorly trained but hadn't committed a crime. That narrative has unraveled this week after Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the guards would be charged.

"I was actually speechless but after I was able to think about it a little bit more, I was definitely optimistic," said Michael Cochran, McKenzie's brother.

John Seiberling and Gaven King were arraigned Wednesday for involuntary manslaughter. Aaron Maree and Lucius Hamilton are also facing that charge but have not yet faced a judge.

Cochran's death was determined to be due to compression asphyxiation but was ruled an accident. However, the incident was reopened following the murder of George Floyd, who died after an officer had put his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Citing similarities in the two cases, Nessel said her office began reviewing the 2014 death. 

Attorneys Keefe Braxton and George Gostias, who are representing Seiberling and King respectively, believed the charges were a political ploy.

"There are people who do these things purposefully, but this was not that," Braxton said. 

"There is a complete lack of evidence," said Gostias. "I would like to know one shred of evidence in their favor - that my client has done something wrong."

Nessel plans to talk about these charges at a press conference Thursday morning. The former security guards who were arraigned earlier today are due back in court Oct. 28. Both were given $2,500 personal bonds.

$20M upgrade for Parkview Place apartments

Nearly 200 seniors in Detroit are getting a bit of peace of mind as the city completes a $20 million makeover to the Parkview Place apartments and promises to keep rent affordable for decades.

There are 198 units inside the Parkview Place apartments and every single one of them is getting roughly $41,000 in upgrades. According to the city, the plan is to make it so the seniors who live there won't get priced out and will keep it affordable.

Mayor Mike Duggan says the development team was within their rights to make the rent market rate. However, through a combination of Detroit, federal, and state tax credits and vouchers including from HUD, the developers were able to keep the nearly 200 units classified as affordable housing.  

"We sat down with them and said we're going to give you some incentives so you can fix up these units, modernize them, and lock in the affordable housing for the next 45 years. And that’s the contract we have today," Duggan said. "This is prime area. I think that long-time Detroiters ought to have first shot at it."

Vaccinated Canadians can return to visit U.S. in November

After more than a year-and-a-half, Americans can welcome back our Canadian friends to the south after the United States announced its ban on nonessential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic is being lifted for people who are fully vaccinated.

The U.S. announced it would reopen the land borders on both the Canadian and Mexican border starting next month. Vehicle, rail, and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the earliest days of the pandemic. The new rules will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason for travel starting in early November.

Both Mexico and Canada have pressed the U.S. for months to ease restrictions on travel that have separated families and curtailed leisure trips since the onset of the pandemic. The latest move follows last month's announcement that the U.S. will end country-based travel bans for air travel, and instead require vaccination for foreign nationals seeking to enter by plane.

By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., like truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.

2016 murder for hire suspect charged

The chief of police in Sterling Heights says trying to find out who killed Nikolla Berishaj and why was no easy task. "The investigation got quite lengthy with possible motives and suspects. the detectives put in hundreds of hours," said Chief Dale Dwojakowski.

It started back on Nov. 9th, 2016. The victim was shot and killed as he sat in his truck outside his Sterling Heights condo. FOX 2 spoke with a neighbor the next day. "I heard someone yell,  'Someone call the f-ing police - so I did," said Amy Gabriel at the time. Sterling Heights police knew early on this case was complicated, but having an officer who is also deputized as an FBI agent has advantages. "Anytime there is a significant crime, we can call our office and we have the full resources of the FBI at our call immediately," the chief said.

The investigation pointed to this being murder for hire. The suspect, a former Sterling Heights resident, named James Williams. "Witnesses and informants - you have to sort all of those things out," Dwojakowski said. "It takes time and you have to verify stories. you can be 90 percent certain someone did something, but that is not difficult in the court of law."

Now, nearly five years after the crime, Williams, who is serving 15 years in federal prison on weapons and drugs charges from a 2019 crime, was arraigned for accepting money in the commission of a murder for hire.

Calvin Johnson, Edgar Van selected as Grand Marshals for Thanksgiving parade

Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson and Bishop Edgar Vann, two familiar faces in Detroit have been selected to serve as Grand Marshals for the city's upcoming Thanksgiving Parade this November. Johnson played for the Detroit Lions for nine years and Vann has served the city since 1976 and works at Detroit's Second Ebenezer Church. 

This year's Thanksgiving parade will be its 95th down Woodward Avenue will be themed "Love on Woodward." "We are thrilled to welcome Calvin Johnson and Bishop Vann as this year’s Grand Marshals for America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner-White," said Tony Michaels, president & CEO, The Parade Company. "Both are beloved figures in Detroit who have worked tirelessly to elevate our city and serve our community. It will be exciting to celebrate with them on Woodward Avenue on Thanksgiving morning." 

Many know Johnson as "Megatron," a prolific wide receiver in football and one of the Lions' best players in the past 20 years. He was selected to the Pro Bowl six times and holds the record for single-season receiving yards. 

Vann has dedicated decades of community service to Detroit, a city he's lived in for over 50 years. His role within the community has allowed him to discuss personal growth and the power of community in both religious settings as well as in the civic and business arena as well. 

What else we're watching

  1. Dale Kildee, a former Michigan Congressman and among the longest-serving members of the U.S. House died at the age of 92. The Flint Democrat was an advocate for the auto industry and helped craft programs for addressing early childhood education and nutrition.
  2. Detroit is planning to celebrate Halloween in the D with drive-up candy stations this Oct. 31 from 4 to 7 p.m. at all police precincts, some fire stations, and the Adams-Butzel, Farwell, and Patton recreation centers. Masks will be required and social distancing will be followed. 
  3. The Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills is doing underwater pumpkin carving since normal pumpkin carving isn't frustrating enough already. Divers hosted a "Carve-Off" in the aquarium's 120,000-gallon tropical ocean habitat. 
  4. A new parking system is being installed in downtown Royal Oak to make it easier and more accessible to park in the city. New kiosks and smartphone-connected systems will enable a swifter and easier parking process.
  5. The city of Detroit is sponsoring its 100th mural today when local artist Waleed Johnson completes a painting at Mack and Van Dyke. It's the latest addition since the program started as a pilot in 2017. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Temperatures are going to get pretty warm Thursday with conditions expecting to be muggy and near 80 degrees by the afternoon. Rain is also likely tonight and tomorrow before a cooldown Friday. 

Heating bills set to soar this winter as inflation hits energy prices

Get ready to pay sharply higher bills for heating this winter, along with seemingly everything else. With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the U.S. government said Wednesday it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared to last winter.

The sharpest increases are likely for homes that use propane, which account for only 5% of U.S. households, but others are also likely to see big increases. Homes that use natural gas, which make up nearly half of all U.S. households, may spend $746 this winter, 30% more than a year ago. That could make this winter’s heating bills the highest for them since the winter of 2008-2009.

The second-most typical heating source for homes is electricity, making up 41% of the country, and those households could see a more modest 6% increase to $1,268.