The 22-year-old Staten Island resident who made headlines for recording the NYPD chokehold killing of Eric Garner was arrested on a weapons charge on Saturday, August 2.
Ramsey Orta has become a local hero since he filmed the botched arrest of Garner, appearing at a number of memorials and rallies since the incident. Now there’s outcry that Orta’s arrest is retribution for his role in exposing alleged police brutality.
Here is what you need to know:
1. He Was Arrested on a Gun Charge
After 10 p.m. on August 3, police say they spotted Orta standing on Central Avenue in Staten Island when he tucked something into the waistband of 17-year-old Alba Lekaj. The New York Times reports that when police conducted a search they found an unloaded .25-caliber Norton semiautomatic handgun and arrested both Orta and Lekaj. Lekaj was reportedly also in possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Orta pleaded not guilty and was transferred to Rikers Island. His bail is set at $75,000.
2. He Has a Long Criminal Record
Orta is prohibited from carrying weapons after previous charges, including a previous weapons conviction. His arrested record features 26 adult arrests with at least two felony convictions, according to CBS.
3. His Wife Chrissie Ortiz Has Also Been Arrested
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) August 6, 2014
SI Live reports that Orta’s wife, 30-year-old Chrissie Ortiz, was arrested on assault charges on August 5. Ortiz reportedly got into an altercation with another woman that ended in an assault. She was arrested and released but faces misdemeanor assault charges.
4. Orta & His Wife Say the Arrests Are Police Retribution
The New York Daily News reports that after pleading not guilty, Orta said, “They lying on me, they doing me wrong. I’ve been harassed since this whole video.”
The unrelated arrests of both Orta and his wife come amid community speculation that the police may be seeking retribution for the Garner video. Before her arrest, Ortiz told SI Live:
They park across the street, they follow him. I’m speaking [about] the NYPD. It’s obvious. Once they rule this a homicide, now you all of a sudden find something on him? Come on, let’s be realistic. Even the dumbest criminal would know not to be doing something like that outside. So the whole story doesn’t fit at all.
5. The Police Union Says There Was No Chokehold in Garner’s Death
Above, you can watch Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, say that the force used by the arresting officer in the case of Eric Garner was appropriate and “not a chokehold.” He justified the move by saying it was an attempt on the part of the officers to subdue and arrest a much larger man. You can watch the original video here, or learn about the arresting police officer below: