SANTA ANA – According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, on the evening of Nov. 6, 1980, Orange County Sheriff's Deputies Ira Essoe, then-40, and Greg Brown were on-duty in plain clothes in their unmarked patrol vehicle in the parking lot of a mall in Orange. Brown observed three men in the parking lot standing suspiciously in front of a raised hood of a yellow mustang. The three men, Knick, Strong, and David Vogel, 63, Riverside, then closed the hood and walked away.
Minutes later the deputies again observed the three men standing by a black mustang with an open hood. Essoe and Brown stopped their vehicle and approached the men. Brown walked towards the open door on the passenger side of the vehicle as Essoe approached on the driver's side. At that point Strong pointed a gun at Brown and demanded he put his firearm on the ground.
Immediately after Brown placed his department-issued weapon on the ground, shots were fired hitting Essoe twice in the back, paralyzing him instantly. Brown took cover behind nearby parked cars. Strong and Knick took the deputies' firearms from the ground, stole their patrol car, and fled the scene. Vogel fled the scene on foot. Witnesses called 911.
Knick was convicted by a jury on Aug. 20, 1981, of one felony count each of attempted murder, unlawful taking of a vehicle, possession of a firearm by a felon, and two felony counts each of assault with a deadly weapon, and auto burglary. He was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in state prison. He was released in June 1990 after serving approximately 9 years in state prison.
As a direct result of being shot in 1980, Essoe was paralyzed and suffered the next 30 years from severe medical complications that resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. He was bed-ridden, causing bed sores and subsequent blood disease. On Feb. 4, 2010, Essoe died due to sepsis of the blood, a blood disease caused by bed sores. Subsequent medical examinations determined that Essoe's death was directly caused by the shooting in 1980.