Man Behind Bars After Filming Eric Garner’s Murder Crowdfunds His Freedom

Supporters of Ramsey Orta raise more than $19,000 to get him out of jail.
Eric Garner's daughter participates in a vigil at the site of her father's death. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
Apr 7, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Rebecca McCray is a staff writer covering social justice. She is based in New York.

More than 750 people, most of them strangers, chipped in online to get the man who captured Eric Garner’s death on video out of jail—and the money keeps rolling in for his attorneys fees, reaching more than $19,000 by Tuesday evening. The outpouring of support for Ramsey Orta is a testament to the public’s appreciation of his role as the camera-wielding whistle-blower who documented the choke hold by a New York City police officer that ended Eric Garner’s life last summer, and shed light on the use of excessive force by police nationwide.

Orta’s attorneys, who are representing him in four cases involving gun possession and drug sale charges, told TakePart that Orta will likely be released in five to 10 days, after the fund-raising website clears the bail money and it is transferred to his family. When he was arrested the month after he filmed Garner’s death for allegedly passing a gun to a 17-year-old girl, Orta told the local news he was “100 percent sure” that he was being framed by the police in retaliation for filing the incident. He denies the charges.

Kenneth Perry and William Aronin, who also represent Orta, allege the district attorney’s office has disseminated “demonstrably false” statements made by unnamed police officers that implicate Orta in crimes he didn’t commit, including rape. Transferring his case to Manhattan or another borough would give him a better shot at a fair trial, they told TakePart.

High on the attorneys’ list of goals in their defense of Orta is having his case transferred out of Staten Island, where Garner was killed. “The [Staten Island] district attorney has been purposefully polluting the well,” Perry said. “We cannot get a fair jury there.”