Police Violence

26-Year-Old Jordan Zenka Shot and Killed by Sacramento Police in a Natomas Grocery Store

Sacramento, Calif. — Jordan Zenka, a 26-year-old gay man self-described as “chronically houseless” was shot and killed by Sacramento Police in early December. His family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Zenka grew up in an abusive household, suffering drug addiction and bullying for his sexual orientation. He had previously held a job as a municipal maintenance worker in Oregon, however, during his time in Sacramento, Zenka was “miserable” and “living out of a hot car”, according to a GoFundMe started shortly before his death.

He was killed following an apparent mental health crisis at a Bel Air supermarket in Natomas.

The scene outside of the Natomas Bel Air. The parking lot is blocked off, and police cruiser lights shine in the distance.

Police say Zenka crashed his car into the Natomas Bel Air in the 3200 block of Arena Boulevard on the morning of Sunday, December 13. 911 calls indicate that Zenka had rushed into the store, creating a commotion and yelling that someone was trying to shoot him. Zenka began holding a knife to his neck and, according to bystanders, started slicing his own throat.

Body-camera video shows officers arrive at the grocery store, greeted by mobs of customers running away from the produce section, where Zenka stood. Bystanders screamed “He’s cutting himself.”

Surveillance footage of Zenka holding a knife to his throat in the produce section.

Then, Zenka began to walk towards the first responding officer, stopping moments later and backing off. The officer described this action as “charging me with a knife”

The officer began to deescalate with Zenka, introducing himself, telling him to relax, and asking him to put down his knife “on top of the oranges.”

Surveillance footage of the officer (top right), speaking to Zenka (bottom left)

“We got all the time in the world, we can just sit here and talk. No big deal.” the officer said.

“Okay? Just relax.”

This was one of the last calm interactions Zenka would have with police.

Soon, other officers would arrive with less-lethal options, including tasers, beanbag shotguns, and 40mm exact impact sponge rounds.

20 minutes later, as a police K9 wailed in the background, Zenka began to run towards officers.

Jordan Zenka running towards officers

The officers deployed less-lethal as Zenka approached them, and he began to slow down.

Then, something very peculiar happened.

Zenka appeared to turn around and go back the way he came. Officers continued to fire, until he dropped to the ground. Jordan was motionless, lying in a pool of blood leaking from his face.

Jordan Zenka with his back facing officers

Zenka was declared deceased on scene – his complicated, tragic life story brought to a sudden and abrupt end by Sacramento Police officers. The young man would never go on to raise money through his GoFundMe, or overcome his struggle with homelessness.

Maybe the saddest fact yet, Zenka would never receive help for the person he thought was shooting him as he experienced a mental crisis, nor did he receive help for his suicidal tendencies.

Jordan Zenka is now simply a memory. Another name scratched off the list by Sac PD.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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