ASTORIA – Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22, issued the following statement on the death of George Zapantis, a Whitestone resident who died Sunday shortly after being taken into police custody.
“I mourn, with my fellow Greek Americans, the death of George Zapantis. The facts of this case are still unfolding, but what we know already is deeply troubling. There must be a full, transparent and independent investigation as to what happened. While that’s underway, we must have a serious conversation about the reasons why New Yorkers like George Zapantis, who reportedly had a history of mental health issues, died during an arrest.
“We have a sad history of deploying police to deal with issues that should be handled by trained mental health professionals. Police should be the absolute last option in these situations. As we have a bigger discussion around reforms to police training, funding and procedures, there must be a deep look at how we treat emotionally disturbed people. As we hopefully divert $1 billion from the NYPD’s existing budget into social services, that must include supporting trained mental health professionals who can be our first line of response alongside EMTs. We owe that to our fellow New Yorkers who have been left behind for too long.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology.
For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.