Ramsey Orta, who shot the Eric Garner video that shows him being choked to death by a police officer, was himself arrested last June. Police claimed Orta was seen giving a small gun to a 17-year-old girl outside of a hotel known for drug trafficking. He was also arrested for allegedly selling heroin to an undercover cop six months after the gun charge.
Orta’s wife believes the police set him up in retaliation for him filming Eric Garner’s death and starting a national controversy.
“It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all,” she told NBC 4 New York. “And it’s obvious. Once they ruled [Garner’s death] a homicide, now you all of a sudden find something on him? Be realistic. Even the dumbest criminal would know not to be doing something like that outside. So the whole story doesn’t fit at all.”
“He feels he was unjustly singled out for arrest because he took that film of his friend getting arrested. The police have gone out of their way to follow him and arrest him every chance they get,” his lawyer, Andrew Plasse, told the New York Daily News.
Orta has taken a plea deal for the gun and drug charges, and it appears he will serve four years in jail. The lawsuit claims the New York Police Department attempted to discredit his video of Eric Garner being choked to death by targeting him.
“Instead of winning accolades for his professional journalism and/or being praised by the media for his exposure of brutal police tactics and the failure of EMTs to assist victims of Police Brutality, (Orta) was maligned and smeared by the NYPD, (and) arrested continually on false and/or trumped up charges,” court papers say.
Orta is claiming it was well within his First Amendment rights to film Eric Garner being choked by police officers, and he believes the police targeting him will discourage others who might film police actions.
During a short struggle with the police, an officer took Garner to the ground and put him in a chokehold. Garner died because of the chokehold, and using the chokehold was against NYPD policy. No officers were indicted over Garner’s death despite it being ruled a homicide.
Orta’s video of the altercation that he shot with his camera phone quickly spread across the internet and caused massive outrage. Protests took place across the country, with many activists holding signs that read “I can’t breath,” which were Garner’s last words in the video.
Ramsey Orta told Democracy Now! earlier this year that police had harassed him regularly after Garner’s death, including by filming him.
“Clearly, when they jumped out on me, that was the first thing that came out his mouth: ‘You filmed us, so now we’re filming you,’ because I asked, ‘Why do you have your cameras out?’ When they jumped out on me, they had their phones in their hand, instead of a gun or anything, from my knowledge, was supposed to be in their hand. So I asked him: Why is he filming me? And he said, ‘Because you filmed us.'”
Eric Garner’s family received a $5.9 million settlement with New York City last year, according to Vox.
[Photo by Pool/Getty Images]