Ramsey Orta, Who Filmed Eric Garner’s Death, to Serve 4 Years in Prison on Plea Deal

Lead Photo: Photo by Steve White
Photo by Steve White
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Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed Eric Garner’s last words – “I can’t breathe” – has grown to regret not releasing the video anonymously. With one clip, Orta gave our nation’s long history of police brutality a face and a name – an act of bravery that changed his life forever. Orta believes the police has employed retaliatory tactics, and since filming Garner in a chokehold, he’s found himself constantly at odds with officers. “And from then on, I’ve been targeted by NYPD,” Orta told Democracy Now! earlier in the year. “I got five pending cases right now — two in Supreme Court, three in criminal. Since then, I’ve just been harassed. I’ve been almost killed in Rikers Island.” Orta accused police of poisoning his food with rat pesticides.

As the two-year anniversary of Garner’s death approaches, 24-year-old Orta has given up fighting the police. He took a plea deal on a weapons and drug case, and starting October 3 will serve four years, followed by 18 months of post-release supervision, according to the New York Daily News. “I’m pretty much tired of fighting,” he admitted.

He plans to enjoy his last months of freedom in Las Vegas, where he and his wife moved to. Just in February, police arrested him in relation to a domestic violence issue. According to reports, he threatened his wife with a knife, but the charges were eventually dropped. He’s been arrested three other times: in August 2014 for possession of a firearm, in February 2015 for allegedly selling drugs to undercover cops, and in June 2015 for selling ecstasy to an undercover cop.

Meanwhile, Esaw Garner – Eric’s widow – has also given up hope. Federal officials told her they’d reinvestigate Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen placing her late husband in a chokehold, but a year has gone by since they assured her she’d get closure, and the investigation has effectively come to a standstill. “I miss my husband dearly, but I’ve basically stopped asking them what’s going on,” she told the New York Times. “If they’re going to do something, then they’ll do it. But it’s in God’s hands now. I’m done.” Delays in the investigation can be attributed to prosecutors with the United State’s attorney’s office in Brooklyn doubting the cop can be proven guilty, going against what Washington prosecutors believe. Both sides made their case to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who now has to decide how to move forward.

As the investigation drags on, Ramsey is gearing up to go to prison once again, and he believes police will still target him. Therefore, he’s going to refrain from eating prison food, sticking to packaged commissary goods. “I’m not going to eat the food that’s being provided,” he said. “Hopefully I can raise enough money.”