Dash-cam footage of a Sheriff’s deputy, Michael Higgins of Orange County California, stomping on a suspects head during a lethal use of force engagement in 2013, has emerged. According to reports, the incident occurred when Higgins and deputy Juan Lopez responded to the report of a domestic dispute. Christopher Zion, 21, had bitten his mother and started assaulting her and his roommate with a large butcher knife for unknown reasons. Deputy Lopez was first on scene and was immediately rushed by Zion outside the residence who commenced stabbing Lopez as he exited his vehicle.
Neighbor and witness, Mike Shackelford, told local news reporters, “The kid came up behind him and hit him and then [the deputy] went down and he [Zion] started stabbing him. Then the second officer pulled up and told him to stop. And he wouldn’t.”
At this point deputy Higgins drew his service weapon and initiated a proper magazine dump on Zion as he fled, Higgins pursued him, until he fell at the building’s entrance. At this point Higgins fired nine more consecutive shots emptying his service weapon’s magazine into Zion, killing him, who is still armed and moving at this point. It is at this controversial moment that Higgins decides to stomp on Zion’s head, probably due to a surge of adrenaline and whatever OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop stage he found himself in. After this, Higgins rushes to the aid of deputy Lopez who is suffering from multiple stab wounds to provide lifesaving medical support and has received a medal of valor for his actions.
Higgins, while understandably trying to eliminate a very real threat, could have simply left Zion after the final nine rounds were fired. That particular action as we see in the video nearly cost the deputy his balance and required him to dangerously close with a threat armed with a blade. Had he not been incapacitated, he could have easily slashed the deputy’s Achilles tendon or a femoral artery. Following the shooting, Zion’s mother chose to sue based on the allegations that the stomp was an improper use of force. The incident was put under review by a 9th circuit court of appeals that later ruled while the shooting was justified, the stomp was not. The footage has been received with surprisingly mixed reactions from the public.