Ramsey Orta, the Man Who Filmed Eric Garner’s Death, to Serve Four Years

Earlier this month, the news broke that two years after Eric Garner’s chokehold death went viral on the internet, the only person heading to jail is the man who filmed it, Ramsey Orta. This makes him the only person at the scene of Garner’s death who will serve jail time. In the beginning of July, it was reported that Orta took a plea deal on weapons charges that were unrelated to the filming of Garner’s death. He claims he has been repeatedly arrested and harassed by cops since he filmed the Garner incident.

Orta was arrested back in August 2014, shortly after the Garner incident in Staten Island, by the NYPD. The police claim that he was in a drug-dealing part of town, and that he tried to pass a teenager on a block that was known to have drugs. They claim they found a .25-caliber Norton semiautomatic handgun on him after they stopped and frisked him, and Orta was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. The NYPD had also arrested the teenager Orta passed, Alba Lekaj, 17, charging her with possession of the gun and possession of a small amount of marijuana. The police were in plain clothes.

Earlier this month in Manhattan Criminal Court, Orta pleaded guilty to the weapons charges. He will likely be spending the next four years in jail as part of the plea deal.

Stop and Frisks

In every state including California, Terry stops (Terry v. Ohio), also called “stop and frisks,” allow police to temporarily detain a ‘suspect’ in public space without a valid warrant. They may then pat you down (known as a frisk) based on “reasonable suspicion” that you have been involved in criminal activity. The Terry standard is a very low legal standard, even lower than the standard of probable cause.

Reasonable Belief and Reasonable Suspicion

In essence, a reasonable belief is probable cause, while reasonable suspicion is the Terry standard. Probable cause requires that police that criminal activity is/was taking place, while reasonable suspicion just requires that police believe that person is involved in criminal activity.  It has been held by the Supreme Court that Terry v. Ohio applies to all criminal stops, detentions, and investigations, including traffic stops. Unfortunately, it also means police motivated by other reasons may have legal right to stop you as long as there is an angle for them to.  

San Diego Trial and Constitutional Rights Lawyers

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje will defend your constitutional rights and freedom with zeal and expertise. Not only are we adept at trials and performing under pressure, but our firm believes in true justice. We will work to ensure your rights through the booking process to charging, and throughout your trial. We will comb through the evidence against you to fight for a fair trial to keep you out of jail. If you have been unfairly charged and arrested for a crime, do not hesitate to contact attorney David Boertje today.