NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The man who shot a video of a fatal police chokehold has been arrested on a gun charge, police said.
Ramsey Orta, 22, was arrested Saturday night on Staten Island on a charge of criminal possession of a firearm, an NYPD spokesman said.
Orta shot the video of an officer using a choke hold to restrain Eric Garner on July 17. Garner died shortly after.
Police say an unloaded semi-automatic weapon was recovered from Orta. It was reported stolen in Michigan in 2007.
Sources tell 1010 WINS that Orta said, “You’re mad because I filmed your boy,” during his arrest.
The NYPD says officers did not know he was the same person until he said that.
They say Orta is in a hospital being treated for a medical condition. Orta’s mother, Emily Mercado, said her son is on suicide watch at Richmond University Hospital.
She said she is proud her son recorded Garner’s arrest.
“It was something that needed to be shown. People needed to see. I’m glad he was the one who did it,” Mercado said.
Orta’s mother also said officers have been following her son since Garner’s arrest.
It wasn’t clear if Orta had a lawyer.
Sources tell 1010 WINS Orta’s prior arrests include armed robbery, illegal gun possession, threatening to kill someone, numerous assaults, turnstile jumping and drugs.
“He’s not perfect and he’s not an angel, but he’s not out here doing what they’re trying to portray him to be,” Orta’s wife Chrissie Ortiz said.
Rev. Al Sharpton said Orta’s arrest supports his call for the federal government to take over the case. Rev. Sharpton also said this is because the Staten Island district attorney shouldn’t be in the position of prosecuting someone who may be a witness in the Garner case, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
Reacting to the arrest, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement, “The arrest of Ramsey Orta for criminal possession of a firearm only underscores the dangers that brought police officers to respond to a chronic crime condition in that community. It is criminals like Mr. Orta who carry illegal firearms who stand to benefit the most by demonizing the good work of police officers.”
Rev. Sharpton went after Lynch’s statement, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
“I don’t know anything Orta said to demonize anyone. He put out a tape. The tape speaks for itself and then the medical examiner comes in and corroborates what happened,” Sharpton said. “This has no bearing at all on the case or the movement for justice in the regard to Eric Garner.”
Sharpton also pointed out that nowhere in the PBA statement did they deny that officers used a chokehold.
“The chokehold is illegal and they’re confessing that they break the law because they can’t handle crime– is that what it sounds like? A confession by the PBA?” Sharpton said.
“I knew that was the cause because I saw it,” Orta said after the medical examiner’s ruling. “Now somebody should get charged.”
Police said Garner was being arrested for selling illegal untaxed cigarettes, but Orta said Garner had just broken up a fight before officers arrived.
“They were just going after him because of his past,” Orta said. “They didn’t witness him sell no cigarettes.”
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