Sometimes you run across a story that is just goofy enough that you don’t know what to make of it. This is one of those stories:
A 25-year-old Ferndale man died Tuesday night after security guards pepper-sprayed him during a confrontation at Northland Center mall in Southfield, police said.
The incident occurred at 5:40 p.m. in the mall’s corridor outside the LA Diamonds jewelry store, after the man told the store owner he wanted to kill somebody, Southfield police Lt. Nick Loussia said today. Paramedics took the man to Providence Hospital in Southfield, where he was pronounced dead at about 6:40 p.m., Loussia said.
“The guy told him, ‘I want to kill somebody,’ and that’s when the business owner called security,” Loussia said. The man was “not cooperative” with the guards, and when it looked like he might assault them, they pepper-sprayed him and began handcuffing him as he resisted, he said.
“That’s when they realized he’d stopped breathing,” Loussia said.
“When police arrived, he was (found to be) handcuffed, seated against a pillar (and) not breathing,” Loussia said.
“From what I saw, the three guards were really laying on him,” said Dan Hutchinson, owner of Hutch’s Jewelry.
“He was saying, ‘I can’t breathe — I can’t breathe.’ They said, ‘If you can talk, you can breathe,’ ” Hutchinson said.
Brent Reeves, general manager of Northland Center, said: “I was told they did not” sit on the man. Reeves said guards told him that the man, when asked to leave the mall, refused and “made fists and pumped up his muscles.”
I could go for the low hanging fruit and make a doughnut joke in regard to the security guards accused of sitting on the man, but I won’t. This story contains too much he-said-she-said to make heads or tails of what went on. But it does illustrate the fact that the information we receive is often not enough to make an educated guess of what happened.
Too often people, myself included, end up jumping to a conclusion based on initial reports. It’s a hard habit to break because speculating on what occurred is a fun exercise in deductive logic. But we must remember to separate exercises in logic from judgements. Based on the comments I’ve read the two prevailing sides appear to be those who are generally anti-cop and those who are generally pro-cop. Predictably the anti-cop crowd wants the security guards’ heads while the pro-cop crowd want the guards absolved of any wrongdoing. Neither side knows what actually went down though.
This is a similar outcome to the George Zimmerman incident. Initial reports made Zimmerman look guilty as Hell. As more evidence came to light Zimmerman’s guilt was no longer a sure thing. But the two sides that had developed, the pro-Zimmerman side and the anti-Zimmerman side, seemed willing to either ignore the new evidence or to perform a great deal of mental gymnastics to twist the evidence to support their belief. This is now how judgements are supposed to be made.
Remember, if you make a judgement be willing to modify it as more evidence comes to light. Try to avoid making judgements when you weren’t involved in a situation. Failing to do so leads to rather nasty polarization that makes civil discussion almost impossible.