The New York man who recorded a cellphone video of police placing Eric Garner in a chokehold has been arrested on a weapons charge, police said Sunday.
Ramsey Orta, 22, was leaving a Staten Island hotel with a 17-year-old girl late Saturday when officers saw him place a .25 caliber semiautomatic handgun in the waistband of the girl’s pants, police told the Los Angeles Times. The gun had been reported stolen in Michigan in 2007, police said.
Orta was in the hospital on Sunday, police said, but refused to disclose further information about why he was there or his condition, citing privacy laws. It was unclear whether he had a lawyer.
Orta recorded the roughly three-minute video July 17, in which Garner, 43, can be seen arguing with police officers trying to arrest him on charges of selling single, untaxed cigarettes. Garner complained that he couldn't breathe, and soon died.
A woman who identified herself as Orta's grandmother, Annie Monteczuma, told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that she did not know why he was hospitalized, nor did she know whether he had a lawyer.
“I just saw today that he was arrested and was in the hospital in the papers,” Monteczuma said.
Garner died after being placed in a chokehold that caused him to suffer neck and chest compressions during his arrest in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island, according to findings released by the New York City medical examiner’s office. Garner’s weight, chronic asthma and cardiovascular disease were listed as contributing factors.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said Orta’s arrest has “no bearing on the case or the movement of justice” regarding Garner's death.
“Let us be clear that the tape that Ramsey recorded has now been validated by the medical examiner’s report,” Sharpton said at a news conference Sunday.
The video shows an officer putting a chokehold on Garner before taking him to the ground. Garner can be heard repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe,” while another officer presses his head against the sidewalk.
The two officers, Daniel Pantaleo and Justin D’Amico, face an internal investigation in connection with Garner’s death. Pantaleo has been stripped of his gun and badge, while D’Amico has been placed on desk duty.
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