Garner’s death at the hands of a police officer has drawn unsettling parallels to George Floyd’s killing last month
Ramsey Orta, the man who took the video of Eric Garner’s 2014 arrest and death at the hands of police, was released from prison on May 28.
Orta, whose prison sentence is officially over on July 11, was released early due to coronavirus, but will remain under court supervision until January 2022. He was originally arrested in 2016 for possession of a weapon, as well as drug charges, though Orta has suggested his incarceration was payback for filming Garner’s death.
Back in 2014, Orta, then-22 years old, recorded police officers as they approached his friend, Garner, near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and accused him of selling loose cigarettes. One officer, Daniel Pantaleo, pulled Garner into a chokehold and ignored him when he said that he couldn’t breathe. The video of his death sparked a wave of protests and enquiries into police brutality. While Orta has been in prison since 2016, Pantaleo wasn’t fired until 2019, according to CNN, and hasn’t been prosecuted.
Orta has claimed in the past that he has been a target for correctional officers due to filming Garner’s death. In 2015, he filed a lawsuit claiming that rat poison was put in his food during his time at Rikers Island.
In a 2019 interview with The Verge, he said: “The cops had been following me every day since Eric died, shining lights in my house every night. You think I’m walking around with a stolen gun that now they say wasn’t even loaded?”
There’s currently a GoFundMe campaign raising money for Orta following release that has raised more than $170,000 of its $200,000 goal. Orta’s name has recently resurfaced as protests rage worldwide due to the police killing of George Floyd, whose death has ignited the biggest uprising in America in 50 years.