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Ramsey Orta recorded Eric Garner’s gruesome choking death at the hands of a New York Police Department officer in Staten Island two years ago and made it public to the press and online.
Ever since, he claims, he’s been targeted by the cops, so now Orta has filed a $10 million harassment suit against New York City.
Orta, 23, pleaded guilty to charges of selling heroin in July 2015 and to hiding a handgun in a woman’s pants the year before. He’ll likely he'll be sentenced to four years for the two crimes.
“Despite the murder of Eric Garner by the NYPD, Ramsey Orta, who filmed the incident, is the only person present at the incident who is going to prison because the NYPD engaged in smear tactics, in cooperation with the news media and prepared a tactical plan to set him up for retaliatory arrests,” his Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit reads.
According to Time, an unnamed police source told the Staten Island Advance that Orta had been arrested 26 times in his life, with at least 10 of those cases having been sealed by the courts. His lawyers claim the number of times he's been arrested is far fewer.
Orta, a slight man at 5’6” and weighing 115 pounds, told Time that, in many ways, he wishes he hadn't recorded Garner’s death and getting involved in the way he did. He says if he had to do it again, he’d circulate the video anonymously.
“Sometimes I regret just not minding my business,” Orta tells Time. “Because it just put me in a messed-up predicament.”
On Friday Aug. 1, 2014, the city medical examiner's office ruled that Garner's death a homicide, caused by "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police."The next day, Orta was arrested.
Orta has moved from his home in Staten Island and now lives with his mother and brother.
The New York Daily News was the first outlet that Orta gave his Garner video to, the day after the incident.
“He walks around with fear,” his aunt, Lisa Mercado, told Time. “He was always an outspoken person. He’s not anymore. He talks about, ‘Maybe I should just kill myself. I’m just hurting my entire family.’ He said he knew he was doing the right thing, but it turned out to be hell. It messed us all up.”