To the Editor: With all the local and national attention on the use of excessive force by the police on African-Americans, why is there such little attention in media to the June 21 death of my friend, George Zapantis--after being hit with a taser several times by the police and suffering a heart attack?
Zapantis had some emotional problems and was reportedly bipolar, but was known to be non-violent, a gentle giant. I know him to be a generous and caring man. He took care of his disabled sister, who required round-the-clock care.
A reportedly false report by one of his neighbors that George had a gun brought the police to his apartment. According to police reports, George had a sword in his hand when about six officers arrived. Police body cameras, not yet seen by the media, should show what the officers observed. However, we do have the video from an upstairs neighbor, and this shows that Zapantis was not threatening, and was standing with his hands behind his back.
In the video, an officer is heard saying: "Get down. You're going to get tasered again if you don't get down." The officer tasered him again and he went into cardiac arrest soon after.
The NYPD Patrol Guide is clear that it is strictly prohibited to use the taser on persons who only passively resist. In the neighbor's video, Zapantis is not resisting.
A good man died, and it may well have been preventable. Doesn't this case deserve more attention in the media -- especially at this time -- a time of re-evaluation of police tactics?
MICHAEL J. GORMAN
Editor's note: Mr. Gorman is a retired NYPD Lieutenant.
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