Police release video of deadly confrontation at Natomas Bel Air

Police say “less lethal options” were used, but the suspect attacked officers while carrying a “large serrated knife”.

NATOMAS, Sacramento – The Sacramento Police Department on Monday released videos of an incident in early December in which officials shot a suspect in a grocery store in Natomas.

The incident happened around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 13, when an official responded to a report of a car that crashed into the Bel Air supermarket on Arena Boulevard. Police received several reports from people in the supermarket that the driver of the car was in the store with a large knife and “cut his throat.”

Employees running out of the store told officers the man was near the bakery. According to the Sacramento Police Department, more officers came and found Jordan Zenka, 26, with cuts on his neck and a large knife in the store.

The body cam material released by the police consists of four body camera videos, three surveillance videos, four broadcast audio files and two cell phone videos recorded by witnesses.

“The videos released today start with the officers’ first reaction and end when the officers start providing medical assistance,” the police department said in a press release.

WARNING: The content of this video is graphic. The following program contains scenes that may offend your moral sense.

According to the department, the officer tried to speak to Zenka and asked him to drop the knife several times. The officer tried to negotiate with Zenka while more officers arrived with non-lethal options like tasers, 40mm impact sponges, and beanbag rifles.

Negotiations lasted more than 20 minutes as the officers dragged the employees who were hiding throughout the store to safety. Towards the end of the negotiations, Zenka runs towards the officers with a large knife.

Officers tried to beat Zenka with “less lethal options, but they had little influence on him”. Despite multiple hits, according to Zenka, the police continued to run towards a K9 unit from the Sacramento Police Department and a CHP patrol officer with a “large serrated knife”. The officers fired their guns and met Zenka, who died on the scene. The less deadly options are fired again until Zenka lets go of the knife.

Sacramento police say the investigation is still ongoing.

Although the incident was recorded by multiple surveillance cameras, body-worn footage, and witness videos, law enforcement experts and mental health attorneys have very different perspectives on how the fatal encounter played out.

“They made him get incredibly close for someone with a knife,” said Don Vilfer, former FBI Swat team member and attorney. “A lot of people think you can shoot a gun out of your hand, but that’s not practical. A person with a knife can come at you very quickly.”

Vilfer said he advised officers to do all they can before resorting to lethal force. While an investigation is ongoing to determine whether or not the shooting was warranted, he said his review of the footage tells him the officers were in danger.

But Carly Brannin sees the video differently.

“It seemed to me that he wanted to run away and past the police because he was scared,” she said.

Brannin is part of Mental Health First, part of the Anti-Police Terror Project. It is a volunteer group of mental health advocates, social workers, and affected Sacramentans working to remove the need for law enforcement during mental health emergencies.

“Drawing a gun is not part of de-escalation,” she said.

She said the standard police reaction that was used likely made Zenka more defensive. Brannin hopes that people in crisis in similar future cases can be met by a psychologist who can make a meaningful connection.

WATCH THE NEXT WATCH: Sacramento Police shoot and kill a man in the Natomas Bel Air supermarket

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