Ramsey Orta, Man Who Videotaped Eric Garner’s Death, Headed To Prison

William Ketchum III is a journalist who covers music, pop culture, film/TV, race,…
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Ramsey Orta, Man Who Videotaped Eric Garner's Death, Headed To Prison
A screenshot of Eric Garner’s fatal encounter with police from July 17, 2014.

The man who recorded New York police officers subduing and killing Eric Garner is headed to prison next week.

On Monday, New York resident Ramsey Orta according to Al Jazeera, he will begin a four-year prison sentence after taking a plea deal in July on a weapons and drug case.

The sentence comes about 26 months after Orta used his cell phone to record his friend Garner being accosted by police after selling loose cigarettes. In the video, which has now been viewed millions of times, Garner is grabbed by multiple officers while one, Daniel Pantaleo, is applying a chokehold around his neck.

Garner, a 43-year-old asthmatic, said “I can’t breathe” 11 times before losing consciousness. The medical examiner death ruled his death as a homicide, but Pantaleo wasn’t indicted. The killing became a benchmark of the movement against police brutality, with Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” a rallying cry for protesters.

Orta’s said that since he shot the video, that he has been harassed and targeted by police. He cites officers shining a spotlight into his home, and parking outside of his house to stop people entering and exiting his home. Al Jazeera reports that he was arrested at least eight times in less than two years. Orta is suing New York City for $10 million for unwarranted arrest and attempts to invalidate his video of Garner.

Of all the arrests, two of them stuck: a handgun charge, and selling heroin to an undercover officer. In a July report, Orta said, “I’m pretty much tired of fighting.”

“My biggest fear about prison would be not coming out alive. I fear for myself being behind enemy lines,” he told Al Jazeera. “I’m going in there with a level head. I’m praying that I can come right out and continue my life as an activist.”

He doesn’t regret releasing the video, he maintains, but he wishes that he would have hidden his identity while doing so. He is one of several people who say they have been harassed by police after filming the police killings of citizens. The people who recorded the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Freddie Gray have all said that police have targeted them after their videos came out.

Read Al Jazeera’s full story about Orta and citizen journalists’ videos of police killings here.

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