Man Who Shot Chokehold Video Arrested on Gun Charge

The man who shot a video of a fatal police chokehold had been arrested on a gun charge, police say.

Ramsey Orta, 22, was arrested Saturday night on Staten Island, blocks from where Eric Garner died in police custody, and charged with criminal possession of a weapon. 

Orta shot the video of an officer using a chokehold to restrain Garner on July 17. Garner died shortly thereafter, and his death was ruled a homicide Friday by the medical examiner's office.

Police said plainclothes officers from a Staten Island narcotics unit saw Orta stuff a silver, .25-caliber handgun into a 17-year-old female companion's waistband after they walked out of the Hotel Richmond. Police called the location, on Central Avenue, a "known drug prone location."

Police said Orta had a previous weapon conviction that prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

Orta was evaluated at a hospital -- his wife said he had a panic attack -- and remanded after his arraignment Monday. In ordering he be remanded, the judge cited Orta's felony record. Orta's wife says the gun belonged to the 17-year-old companion, not Orta, and that the arrest was a setup.

"It's not fair," said Chrissie Ortiz. "And it's obvious. Once they ruled this a homicide, now you all of a sudden find something on him? C'mon. 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."

Information on Orta's lawyer wasn't immediately available.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been a vocal critic of police tactics in Garner's case, said Orta's arrest had no bearing on calls for justice. 

"If you're a policeman you're trained to deal with crime, you're not trained to commit a crime," Sharpton said. "The chokehold is illegal."

Sharpton and Garner's widow have called for an arrest in his death.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement that Orta's arrest “only underscores the dangers that brought police officers to respond to a chronic crime condition in that community."

In addition to running the National Action Network, Al Sharpton is a talk show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

-Andrew Siff contributed to this report

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