After copping out in July to a four-year prison sentence for alleged drugs and weapons possession, cop-watch activist Ramsey Orta is preparing to turn himself in next month to begin his bid. His supporters are seeking the public’s support to help him endure his ordeal.
Orta is the 24 year-old Staten Island man who video recorded Eric Garner’s July 17, 2014, fatal encounter with the NYPD’s Daniel Pantaleo, which was eerily reminiscent of the fatal chokehold scene in Spike Lee’s 1989 movie, “Do the Right Thing.”
“The man who filmed the police killing of Eric Garner, Ramsey Orta, is now heading to jail for four years on unrelated charges—making him the only person at the scene of Garner’s killing who will serve jail time,” Time magazine reported last summer. “[In July] Orta took a plea deal on weapons and drug charges. He says he has been repeatedly arrested and harassed by cops since he filmed the fatal police chokehold nearly two years ago.”
Just two weeks after Garner’s killing, Orta was arrested and charged with narcotics and weapons possession. He maintains that police have consistently harassed, targeted and threatened him ever since the video of Garner’s death went viral.
Orta described an encounter in which police were filming him, stating, “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, [which] 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.’”
Orta maintains that the NYPD used snitches to set him up on a weapons charge.
“He was never in possession of a gun,” claimed one of Orta’s supporters. “The person who was, was clearly working with the police to get a charge on Orta that would silence him for good, but it didn’t. Ramsey was targeted because of his courage, but his prison sentence is not a sign of guilt.”
Despite the illegal chokehold being against NYPD policy, and Garner’s death later being ruled a homicide by a city coroner, no officers were indicted in this case. Garner’s last gasping words of “I can’t breathe!” immediately became synonymous with police brutality and became a popular hashtag. Protestors across the country wore T-shirts or displayed signs with the very same words sprawled across.
Garner’s family received a $5.9 million settlement from New York City last year.
Earlier this year Manhattan prosecutors declined to pursue domestic violence charges against Orta.
Orta says he was the victim of attempted poisoning while incarcerated on Rikers Island last year, and he is seeking support to prevent the same from happening while incarcerated upstate by only purchasing packaged commissary items.
“I’m not going to eat the food that’s being provided,” he said. “Hopefully I can raise enough money.”
His supporters are asking people to donate to his PayPal account at Ortaramsey@gmail.com. Supporters can get regular updates of how he is and what he needs on the Support Ramsey Orta page on Facebook.
Orta said he has been in Las Vegas with his wife and plans to “spend my last couple of months” of freedom with her there.