Orange County officials recently agreed to pay a $1.1 million settlement to the mother of a 21-year-old suspect who was shot to death by a deputy that repeatedly stomped on his head after the shooting. According to police dash cam footage, the suspect was motionless and immediately required medical attention when the deputy stomped on his head, fracturing his skull.
On September 4, 2013, Connor Zion, 21, was reportedly suffering from seizures at his California residence when his roommate and mother attempted to help him. After stabbing them with a kitchen knife, Zion encountered then-Deputy Juan Lopez outside the apartment complex.
While Lopez retreated, Deputy Michael Higgins arrived in his patrol car and reportedly almost collided into the other deputy. Losing his footing, Lopez fell to the ground as Zion stabbed his arm.
When Higgins exited the vehicle, Zion began to flee when police dash cam video recorded Higgins firing nine shots at Zion from behind. After Zion collapsed to the ground, Higgins emptied his clip by firing another nine rounds while standing over his barely moving body.
Several seconds later, Higgins ran towards Zion and repeatedly stomped his head, which fractured his skull. Zion did not appear to be a viable threat as Higgins continued striking him at least three times.
Zion did not survive the incident, while Higgins went on to receive the Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor in 2014 for his actions that night and was later promoted to sergeant. According to a medical expert, Zion could have survived the initial round of shots if he had received immediate medical attention.
In January, a federal jury awarded $360,000 in damages to Zion’s mother, Kimberly Zion, after determining that Higgins had used excessive force against her son. On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved an additional $740,000 due to several years on litigation.
“This puts to rest a very, very difficult period in her life,” said attorney Dan Stormer, who represents Zion’s mother. “No amount of money can compensate for the loss of Connor, but it does show a recognition on the part of the county of its obligation. These deputies, in my opinion, were completely out of control and instead of punishing them, they rewarded them with medals. That can’t be changed, but this public acknowledgment of this large sum of money is very important as a recognition of the harm.”
“I don’t think he acted in an honorable manner,” Kimberly Zion said of Higgins, during a recent interview with My News LA.
No criminal charges have currently been filed against Higgins.