Ramsey Orta, the man who recorded the infamous video of an NYPD officer choking Eric Garner to death, remains incarcerated in Rikers Island despite his family having raised enough bail for his release.
The 23-year-old man says he has been on a hunger strike, fearing that guards are trying to kill him by placing rat pellets in his food, a suspicion shared by 19 fellow inmates who filed a lawsuit last month alleging they were being poisoned.
Through a Go Fund Me fundraiser, his family raised more than $40,000, more than enough to pay for his $16,000 bail. The rest, they say, will go towards his legal defense
But even though his family has paid the bail, a New York City assistant district attorney is insisting he remain in jail until the family proves the funding was not obtained through illegal sources, according to Staten Island Live.
A hearing has been set for Monday.
Orta was arrested in August, one month after he had recorded New York City police officer Danny Pantaleo place Garner in a chokehold after having been accused of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Police say they saw him place a gun in the waistband of a teenage girl who was with him, but his lawyer said no fingerprints were found on the gun.
However, a grand jury took the word of police, believing it was enough probable cause to indict Orta less than weeks two weeks after his arrest.
Three months later, a different grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, believing there was no probable cause to charge him in the killing of Garner, which was captured in Orta’s video.
At some point after Ramsey’s August arrest, he was released because he was arrested again in February on drug charges.
Police claim they have video evidence of peddling marijuana, heroin, cocaine and an assortment of pills.
As one NYPD cop told the New York Daily News:
“He took the video,” a police source said of Ramsey Orta.
“Now we took the video.”
Orta insists the NYPD has been retaliating against him for having exposed one of its officers as a cold-blooded killer. After all, Pantaleo, who has several lawsuits against him, smiled and waved at the camera as Garner’s lifeless body was being placed on a stretcher.
But at look into Orta’s past reveals a man who has a lengthy rap sheet involving robbery and battery and drug charges, even before he recorded the video. The New York Post, which has a tendency for sensationalism, even quotes “law enforcement sources” saying he has a previous arrest for rape, but that has not been reported anywhere else.
So while it’s likely the NYPD did target him for the Garner video, it doesn’t seem as if he made a very strong effort of keeping himself clean, knowing he would be targeted.
Meanwhile, Feidin Santana, the man who video recorded South Carolina cop Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott in the back, says he is fearful for his safety, knowing he exposed a North Charleston cop to be a killer.
But at this time, it appears as if the 23-year-old man has a clean record. And in various television interviews, he doesn’t give the impression that he would put himself in a position where police could arrest him on felony charges.
But he still needs to watch his back. Especially in a town where having a broken brake light could get you killed.