VIDEO: Deputy Repeatedly Head-Stomps Would-Be Cop-Killer After Emptying Magazine Into Him

Video has been released from the fatal use of force when an Orange County Sheriff's deputy took out a would-be cop-killer.

Nov 2, 2017

Orange County, CA - Video has been released which shows a deputy repeatedly head-stomping a suspect after emptying a magazine into him. The force was in response to the suspect attempting to murder another deputy.

The video has just been released as the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the deputy may be sued for using excessive force.

The incident happened in 2013 when Deputy Juan Lopez responded to a domestic disturbance.

Police were called when 21-year-old Connor Zion bit his mother and then started cutting his mother and roommate with a butcher knife.

Immediately upon Deputy Lopez's arrival, Zion charged him and started stabbing him.

Deputy Michael Higgins arrived to find Deputy Lopez on the ground with Zion repeatedly stabbing him.

Neighbor Mike Shackelford spoke with CBS2’s Stacey Butler about what he witnessed.

“The kid came up [from] behind him and hit him,” said Shackelford. “And then [the deputy] went down and he started stabbing him. Then the second officer pulled up and told him to stop. And he wouldn’t.”

Seeing Zion actively attempting to murder another deputy, Deputy Higgins opened fire on Zion, pursuing him while firing nine shots until Zion dropped.

Deputy Higgins then fired his remaining nine rounds until his magazine was empty; Zion was still moving.

Deputy Lopez was down after being repeatedly stabbed. Deputy Higgins was in a position where he needed to ensure that Zion was no longer a threat before providing potentially life-saving first aid to his partner.

Rather than taking the time to handcuff Zion and search him for weapons, Deputy Higgins stomped on his head three times and then ran to provide first aid to his partner.

Zion was pronounced dead.

Deputy Higgins saved the life of Deputy Lopez, and was awarded a medal of valor.

Zion's mother later sued, claiming that the use of force was excessive.

A three-member panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that while the shots could be determined to be justified, the head-stomping appeared to be excessive. This ruling allows the lawsuit against Deputy Higgins to go forward.

"...terminating a threat doesn't necessarily mean terminating the suspect," Judge Alex Kozinski wrote.

You can see the video of the incident below. Do you think that this use of force was justified? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments. WARNING: Graphic content.

Comments (95)
No. 1-50
KathleenH
KathleenH

Yes I do...

Kurtis93888
Kurtis93888

Hell yes he had every right to do that.

dawnaray
dawnaray

Wow, he just plain lost it in the heat of the moment. I can't say I'd do any different. These thugs are out of control & our officers are under unbelievable pressure.

Crueltiming
Crueltiming

Yes...head stomping him is a bit overboard..but...the suspect was still a threat...adrenaline on the part of the officer...it happens. He probably needs stress debrief etc....

amlee
amlee

what i think is more inappropriate is the mother suing AFTER he attacked her with the same knife he stabbed the deputy with. Thank you Deputy for taking that POS out of circulation.

debo9091
debo9091

now that's how you take out the trash,why do they think they have the right to sue maybe her thug son should have killed her

LACop
LACop

Great job by Deputy. Instead of head stomp, maybe reload. But adrenaline going, OIS, partner down, head stomp good job.

Dearnhardt
Dearnhardt

Id still be stomping that piece of craps head. I wouldnt stop til you couldnt tell the difference in his head and the concretr it was laying on

Warhawk
Warhawk

I think the mother should be curb stomped as well. Screw her and her piece of crap dead son.

dpj1959
dpj1959

If he was already dead from his lead ingestion, the head stomps should not be an issue.

CplUSMCRetired
CplUSMCRetired

This is tough... is he technically a risk anymore? He could be... police protocol is to hold them at gunpoint until backup arrives. However, his backup was bleeding out on the ground from knife wounds. Technically, yes it is excessive force because deadly force was no longer needed... However, I don't know anyone outside of people that already hate cops, that would hold him or thr department responsible. Had this been a civilian, it would be easily, and successfully argued that he did what he thought was necessary to end the threat. However, since we hold Police to a higher standard, we should also give his assessment of what was needed to stop the threat, more credibility. If he had done what he was supposed to, his partner could be dead, and the person who stabbed him, dead too. This way, he sped up the suspect's death/incapacitating so he could help his partner.

Perhaps the best defense to this will be claiming that the officer was simply trying to knock him out so he could help his partner without worrying about a second round of attacks. Purely objectively, the judges had to let this go through. However, I will be severely shocked if the mother, whose life was saved by the Deputy that would have died had the second officer followed procedure, got a penny. If she gets anything, the Deputy who almost died should sue her son's estate, to get any money she is awarded.

NTPD935Ret
NTPD935Ret

Great job!!!! That court should be disbarred.

Bee1460
Bee1460

The officer who got stabbed should file a suit against the mom that "raised" him.

Josey_Wales
Josey_Wales
shooter
shooter

As a former OCSD deputy, firearm instructor, and use of force instructor, and given the totality of circumstances, in addition to the fact that the deputy is a human being who just witnessed a fellow deputy being killed, I see nothing wrong with that.

Additionally, I don't see the sense in this:

"...A three-member panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that while the shots could be determined to be justified, the head-stomping appeared to be excessive."

If the guy was already dead, use of force by head-stomping a dead person is not excessive. Force can only be ruled excessive if the person is still alive and suffers unnecessary pain and agony resulting from the excessive force. I seriously doubt he was still alive after 18 rounds.

He was taking care of business in a high-stress circumstance and did what he thought was necessary in that circumstance to eliminate the threat.

Bottom line, there are too many Monday-morning quarterbacks out there who have no idea what it's like to react to that kind of situation.

JennyDuShane
JennyDuShane

Nor do snowflakes have any idea what you officers go through. You guys are heros just for having to deal with these cry babies that are offended ever second. Plus the media doesn't help with giving only half truth of what really happens. They only give enough to start a riot.

Duder1897
Duder1897

Too bad the idiot mom didn't bleed out as well.

Dances_With_Skunks
Dances_With_Skunks

"...terminating a threat doesn't necessarily mean terminating the suspect," Judge Alex Kozinski wrote."

Maybe the judge would have preferred that the officer pause in between shots and hold the perp's hand and ask him how he's doing, while his partner bleeds out!

MOTHER: "Yes, 911? My son is biting and cutting us! We need help NOW. PLEASE! We are in fear for our lives!! I don't care what you do - just HURRY! We're going to die!"

MOTHER OF FLATHEADED SPRINKLER: "Oh but I didn't mean for you to KILL HIM! Why couldn't you just terminate the threat? That officer over there bleeding can wait! That's MY BABY BOY over there! OMG his head is flat! Well shit! I need some money right about now! I'll sue your ass. I'm sure there's some ignorant judge who will side with me! My lawyer smells money here! Police brutality! They flattened his head!"

Sorry for the sarcasm, but I am freaking tired of people blaming the police for everything. The son is the one who drove this situation. They need to be held accountable for their own actions.

Nodonutz
Nodonutz

It's the 9th Circus..... would you expect anything less from them?

DieselDawg
DieselDawg

He put the thug down like the mad dog he was. Well done!

td178
td178

Liberal 9th Circuit strikes again.

BrotherInBlue
BrotherInBlue

Id say 1,000,000,000,000,000×infinity that the Deputy was justified....of course the failure as a parent mother wants a pay day as do all of the other parents of their out of control offspring do....because its ALWAYS easier to place the blame on someone else instead of owning your mistakes in life

angryAmerican
angryAmerican

The officer did his job to perfection! The mother is looking for her big pay day after her kid tried killing her and an officer! The 9th should be disbanded as they continue to their goal of destabilizing the country and minimizing our Constitution!

bleuLivesMatter
bleuLivesMatter

Sometimes I curb stomp a roach after emptying a whole can of bug spray on it. Gotta make sure it's dead. Nothing to see here... move along.

HB1
HB1

Nice ending to this low life. Great job OCSD

Doc45
Doc45

Excessive force? On a dead person? AHAHAHAHA

b16sir1991
b16sir1991

GOOD for this officer!!!!!!!! If the gloves were taken off, this country would have very little crime to even report! Bastards like that POS SHOULD get the wheels beat off them!

Kathy3882
Kathy3882

If Mommy didn't want Baby Boy shot and taken down, she should've just taken her stabbings!!! Maybe he wouldn't have killed her. Then she could've just drove herself to the hospital. Could've told the Dr and nurses that she FELL on the knife...REPEATEDLY!!!

Kathy3882
Kathy3882

@angryAmerican: I agree. The 9th and 4th U.S. Circuit Courts have proven themselves corrupt. They do need to be shut down.

Jaco1026
Jaco1026

I need to put this into perspective... There's an idiom "fighting for your life", "fight of your life" whichever. We all know what it means. Many people will never experience having to physically fight to stay alive. If I ever find myself in that type of situation will someone please tell me where I get the rule book so I can prepare and learn what I can and cannot do to stay alive...

That is the most absurd thing I've ever said.

Try putting on a badge and going to work every day knowing that each day there is a chance and a probability that you will find yourself fighting for your life. Men in blue are human first then they are police officers. Just because they wear a badge doesn't mean they're not going to fight for their lives or defend the life of their brother. I'm going to speak for myself here and say that if I was a police officer and I was fighting for my life or fighting to make sure the offender wasn't able to kill me, at that moment I'm no longer a cop and excessive force does not exist! Oh and the rulebook/regulation book, REALLY! How do these criminals and their families justify an excessive force claim!?

Meohmy
Meohmy

I see ZERO problems here. Seriously. How dumb does one have to sound to say it is ok to shoot them but NOT kick them or stomp on them ??...

Charlene
Charlene

All failure parents want paydays from their loser child's wrong doing. Michael Brown, this one, the list is endless.

Bryskee
Bryskee

Well there’s nothing else to add in the comment thread. You 2 summed it up,

Millertime87
Millertime87

He forgot to taze him, night stick him, after pepper spraying him, then parking car on top of him with a cherry on top. Muah masterpiece

AugieBRad
AugieBRad

*putting myself in that situation...
if I was witnessing someone I cared for being potentially murdered (as this police officer was) I would definitely destroy the assailant as quickly and brutally as I could in order to check the status of my loved one that is potentially dying. Bottom line... my primary mindset would be to neutralize the situation as quick as possible, knowing that every second could mean life or death for my loved one. If it's wrong, so be it. Some things are worth being disciplined for and this is one of them. I commend the officer.
It's a shame his gun didn't hold 9 more rounds since the bottom of his shoe is what is being considered "excessive".

MSK
MSK

Great job by the deputy! Like many of the other commentators have said, I don’t care who you are, if I saw a buddy of mine being killed I’m going to stop it from happening and if my anger takes over so be it. It’s like one of the comments read, if police were allowed to take the gloves off and do some old fashion law enforcement we wouldn’t have half of the violent crime that we have. I was a firemen my brother was a cop. My brother always told me that there was one universal language and that everyone understood it, PAIN!!!! He wasn’t a barbarion but he never ever took any shit (the 70’s). Cops and firemen are responsible for each other’s lives out there. We don’t get to call someone else to come save us and this deputy made sure that this perp wasn’t going to do any more damage to a brother officer. The mother and the ninth circus can go F* themselves. Hurt a dead guy. Right. Imbeciles.

Debkk9
Debkk9

I don't see a problem. .he stopped the threat. Give him a medal and throw her case out of court.

Mali
Mali

Some people will never understand what stress that encounter would cause. He did what was necessary. If it was over the top then we should be able to consider his emotional state of mind. If people are allowed to use a defense of temporary insanity, or to much cough medicine, crimes of passion etc. Then the officers who face trial on these types of related civil complaints should be afforded the same opportunities. If this suit goes through he should be allowed that defense. And if this suit where to go through and the judge and or jury where to find him guilty in any civil suit the imposed fine should be no more than $1. I am not saying I thi k he should be charged. I am only stating this goes forward should follow these lines.

Homer
Homer

You need to ensure that the baddie is not going to be able to come back and get you while you are rendering first Aid to your buddy and anyone else injured. You need to be certain.

10dash7
10dash7

There are no rules when fighting to save your or a partners life or that of innocent citizens. Whatever it takes to preserve the life of yourself and any other is necessary regardless of how extreme it may appear. You can damn sure bet the person(s) you are taking on are not following a list of rules trying to win the best 'sportsmanlike' award for the year. Only one concern when a fight for life is underway, that is for you to be alive when it comes to an end. Being sued is a hell of a lot better than be carried and covered with dirt at a young age.

ACSO-Charles-One
ACSO-Charles-One

Speaking from an administrators point of view. The suspect is lucky I was not present. With that said the only problem I might have is whether or not the deputy did a magazine drop. I couldn't tell from the video. Other than that great job and as for the ruling from the 9th Circuit what would you ecpect.

Whitelightning777
Whitelightning777

I think he needs a medal. Cop killers should all be executed anyway.

TriggerNYPD
TriggerNYPD

His partner is seriously injured/likely to die.... taking the time to handcuff the perp to secure him could very likely result in the death of his brother officer, NOT doing ANYTHING to be sure the perp was temporarily incapacitate the perp could or would have resulted in TWO dead cops! This cop did the right thing....he did not intend to kill the perp, his intent was to render aid to his partner and to ensure the safety of him and his partner while he rendered aid and called for assistance. He was buying time to ensure his and his partner's safety, while also attempting to save his partner's life.....

JBo
JBo

The guy has been filled full of bullets and is dead...the head stomp didn't hurt...IMHO.

ACOmom
ACOmom

Mother saved from slice and dice by officer??? Yet wants to sue?? Maybe saved wrong person

Lkymomof5
Lkymomof5

I would say it's probably all of the bullets that killed him and the head stomps didn't hurt him so what the hell is the problem?? Another nut case off the streets, no longer able to hurt his mother or another police officer ever again!

Olivia1234
Olivia1234

much agree he does deserve a medal he definitely had to make sure he was dead so he wouldn't come up and try to stab the officer more throw this out of court and give him a raise

Criminaljustice1977
Criminaljustice1977

I hope people donated to pay this dead dude's mom off.

Scooby007
Scooby007

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is all i needed to read to understand why the officer is sllowed to be sued. Luberal panty waste court.

Supporthethinbluline
Supporthethinbluline

Nothing about how many times the guy in blue thought the bad guy was down only to be surprised when they jump up and fight until they bleed out. Don't feel bad, won't lose any sleep but would be happy to donate to defend the Deputy.