Ramsey Orta, the 22-year-old who shot the video showing Eric Garner struggling with New York police, believes the grand jury member’s minds were already made up before he even walked into the court room.
“When I went to the grand jury to speak on my behalf, nobody in the grand jury was even paying attention to what I had to say,” Orta told the New York Daily News. “People were on their phones, people were talking. I feel like they didn’t give (Garner) a fair grand jury. People was on their phones, people were having side conversations, like it was just a regular day to them.”
After Wednesday’s verdict of no indictment by a Staten Island grand jury in the case of Eric Garner, many people were left wondering how, even with video evidence, a jury was able to determine that there should be no punishment for murder.
The video shot by Orta showed in excruciating detail the struggle between Garner and officer Daniel Pantaleo, but yet the grand jury didn’t seem to be watching the same homicide the rest of us were.
“I have faith in [Attorney General] Eric Holder, and I think justice, in this case at least…because there’s evidence,” Spike Lee told Anderson Cooper on Anderson Cooper 360 of the investigation by the Justice Department that the case is now receiving. “There’s a 14-minute tape by Eric Garner’s friend, who spent a lot of that day with him. And I don’t know what the grand jury was looking at that they cannot bring a charge and the guy walks.”
Orta said that his court appearance began two hours late because some of the jurors did not even show up on time and the jurors seemed to be more worried about Garner’s purpose in front of the beauty supply store than his murder.
One of them “wasn’t even asking no questions about the police officer, he was asking all the questions toward Eric,” Orta said. “What was Eric doing there? Why was Eric there? Nothing pertaining to the cop choking him.”
The jury even brought Orta’s credibility into question by asking if he had a criminal record.
“I said, ‘Miss, what does my criminal history have to do with Eric?’” Orta explained. “I said we shouldn’t be sitting here talking about me. We should be talking about Eric now. And we shouldn’t even be talking about Eric. We should be talking about the cop.”
The jury eventually cut Orta’s time short, only speaking with him for ten of the allotted half hour that his lawyer had told him he was supposed to spend with the jury.
Orta is happy that the Justice Department is now picking up the case and investigating it further.
“The feds should pick it up,” he said. “Staten Island is too tied up. They all know each other. They won’t violate their own kind.”
He hopes that justice will prevail in this bleak situation.
“We shouldn’t have to fight for it. It’s plain. It’s right there,” Orta said.
Despite the fact that the grand jury can’t seem to indict someone for murder, they didn’t hesitate to bring charges against Orta.
Another grand jury indicted Orta due to police allegations that he put an unloaded .25 caliber handgun into the waistband of Alba Lekaj outside the Hotel Richmond two weeks ago. Police have obtained the gun, but there are no fingerprints on the weapon.
Orta believes this is a set up to punish him for recording Garner’s murder.
None of it makes any sense,” said Orta’s wife Chrissie Ortiz. “I’m just worried about my husband and getting out the truth and making sure justice is served for Eric Garner and my husband.”