George Zapantis, a 29-year-old Greek-American, was killed by police in New York’s borough of Queens, after a neighbour misreported that he was carrying a gun inside his own home.
Ricky Noble, a neighbour of Zapantis, blamed another neighbour entirely for the incident and described the deceased as a good person who often brought them Greek food, caused no trouble and looked after his down syndrome sister, as reported by Greek City Times.
George Zapantis, who suffered from bipolar, was in his basement dressed as a gladiator and was carrying a samurai sword when police arrived at his house. When police entered the house, they ordered Zapantis to drop the sword, but when he refused to, they tasered him. As they attempted to handcuff him outside of the house, police tasered him again.
It is suspected he died of cardiac arrest in an ambulance and was pronounced dead at New York-Presbyterian Queens hospital.
Athanasia Zapantis said the family was waiting for the results of an independent autopsy on her son’s cause of death, and expressed her frustration that police didn’t call in a social worker to defuse the situation.
“If my son was wrong…” she said. “I don’t think he was wrong at all. He had so good a heart. He was kind to everybody.”
Athansia Zapantis said she will move out of the neighbourhood knowing that one of her neighbours is responsible for causing an incident that led to her sons death. The neighbour was seen clapping as George was being tasered and handcuffed.
“If I see him, I’m going to spit in his face,” said Athanasia.
In an act of good will, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America has not only said that the funeral expenses will be covered by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, but that he will personally preside over George's funeral.
The funeral will take place on Monday morning local time at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Whitestone, New York.