Aug. 26—The mother of a man shot by officers inside a Natomas Bel Air grocery store last year is suing Sacramento police, the sheriffs office and the California Highway Patrol, alleging they used lethal force against the man while he was suffering a mental health crisis.
The suit, filed Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court, claims officers used excessive force when they shot 26-year-old Jordan Zenka after responding to reports of a car crashing into the Bel Air on Dec. 13, 2020, about 6:35 a.m.
The lawsuit says Zenka was inside the store having a mental health crisis and that officers initially tried talking to him, then escalated the situation by deploying less-than lethal bean bag rounds and tasers multiple times on (Zenka) before fatally shooting him.
Even after lethal shots were fired, officers continued to tase (Zenka) as he laid on the ground bleeding to death, according to the suit, filed by Woodland Hills attorney Dale Galipo on behalf of Zenkas mother, Mary Ellen Lennox. Plaintiff alleges that all the force used against (Zenka) was excessive and unreasonable under the circumstances.
At all relevant times, (Zenka) was not armed with a gun, and posed no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to any other person.
Sacramento police, the CHP and the Sheriffs Office declined to comment on pending litigation.
But police said at the time that Zenka was armed with a large serrated knife, had attempted to cut his own throat and charged at officers with the knife.
Once the Sacramento Police Department officer arrived, employees fleeing the store told the officer that a man inside was armed with a knife near the bakery, police said in a Dec. 21, 2020, statement that was accompanied by the release of videos of the incident. Once inside the grocery store, the officer observed a male with a large knife and lacerations to his neck.
Police said the officer ordered Zenka to drop the knife several times, but he refused and charged toward the officer, who backed off and ultimately worked with other officers to negotiate with Zenka for 20 minutes.
Police said Zenka charged again during the negotiations and that he was hit with a Taser and bean bag shots but was minimally affected and ran toward a police officer and CHP officer, both of whom fired, killing Zenka.
The lawsuit contends that police unnecessarily escalated the situation, had other options available, and officers gave no verbal warning that deadly force was going to be used.
The suit also says the shooting violated standard training on the use of deadly force and with respect to dealing with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
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