You may remember recently reading about Eric Garner. He was “arrested” in a way that left him dead. The death was video-recorded by New York City resident Ramsey Orta.
Orta has now been arrested on the charge of carrying an unloaded gun. There is no explanation as to what benefits Orta expected to gain from a handgun without bullets. But, even unloaded, the gun is illegal.
According to the local CBS station,
Orta pleaded not guilty two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and is being held on $75,000 cash bail, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported. The bail was set in part due to what a judge called Orta’s “significant” record that included two felony convictions.
So Orta is a repeat offender. Ironically, so is the police officer whom Orto caught on video. As William Griggs writes,
The same is true, however, of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who assaulted Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold, leading to what the medical examiner has concluded was a death by homicide.
Pantaleo was the subject of several previous complaints for excessive force prior to his lethal assault on Garner. One of them was filed by a Staten Island welder named Tommy Rice,who was one of four men stopped by Pataleo and several other officers about a mile from the site where Garner was killed. According to a lawsuit filed by Rice and his friend Darren Collins, they were stopped without cause and publicly strip-searched – the officers pulling down their pants and slapping their genitals in the futile hope of finding drugs. The suit was eventually settled for a trivial amount.
Another lawsuit filed by Rylawn Walker accuses Pantaleo of arresting him without cause, holding him for 24 hours, and then inventing a “cover charge” to justify the abduction. Walker’s lawsuit against Pantaleo remains active.
Continuing with the story from CBS:
As CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported, Orta’s wife, Chrissie Ortiz, left the courthouse in tears following the arraignment.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “It’s obvious he was set up. Who cannot see that?”
Orta was arrested Saturday night on Staten Island, a few blocks from where officers confronted Garner on July 17.
Around 9:45 p.m. Saturday, police said plainclothes officers from a Staten Island narcotics unit saw Orta stuff a silver-colored, .25-caliber handgun into a 17-year-old female companion’s waistband as they were leaving the Hotel Richmond single-room occupancy facility.
Orta’s mother tells the same story as his wife:
Orta’s mother, Emily Mercado, said police have been following her son ever since he recorded Garner’s arrest.
“They’ve been following him,” she said. “They’ve been sitting in front of my house. They put spot lights in my window.”
Ortiz also said police have been harassing him.
“It’s payback for him exposing what they did to Eric Garner and the bad things that they were doing,” she said.
Ortiz said her husband believed police were trying to set him up.
“He called me and said, ‘babe, hurry up and come over here. They’re trying to pin something on me,’” she said. “The day after they declare it a homicide, you find someone next to him with a gun, and you saw him pass it off? Out in public when he knows he’s in the public spotlight? It makes no sense.”
Of course, it is completely possible that Orta is a guy who breaks the law pretty often, and he just happened to get caught after video-recording the police. But it does seem likely that he wasn’t spotted and arrested because he happened to be spotted by plainclothes officers but because he was being followed by plainclothes officers. If so, then, even if he is guilty of breaking New York City’s strict gun control laws, he wasn’t arrested to keep the residents of New York City safe. He was arrested as payback.
As Will Griggs points out, this is a city where almost half of all murders go unsolved. I’m not sure how residents can sleep easier at night knowing that the NYPD spent time and resources getting an unloaded handgun off the street. It seems only slightly more important than dealing with the white flag bridge joke.