Update, April 10th, 2014, 4:08 p.m.: On Friday afternoon, District Attorney Dan Donovan’s office withdrew the bail hearing for Ramsey Orta challenging the source of funds used to post his bail.
Staten Island, NY- Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo using a banned chokehold technique on Eric Garner, has not been released from prison this week despite posting bail.
Orta, 23, was indicted last December on gun charges shortly after a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner. Orta was accused of placing a handgun in a teenager’s waistband and faces two felony weapon charges and a misdemeanor weapon possession charge in that case. After Orta was arrested, the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association made a statement proposing the idea that it was “criminals like Mr. Orta who carry illegal firearms who stand to benefit the most by demonizing the good work of police officers.”
In February, Orta was accused of selling drugs to an undercover police officer on nine different occasions, and is facing felony charges of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Orta has refuted all of the charges, claiming that he was “set up” in regard to the alleged drug sales as well as the gun possession charges. Assistant District Attorney Natalie Barros said that seven of Orta’s nine alleged drug transaction were caught on videotape. Orta has remained in prison following the drug charges.
According to news station PIX11, a GoFundMe campaign was initiated by Lisa Mercado, Orta’s aunt, to raise $16,000 for the cost of Orta’s bond and other fees. The GoFundMe campaign has raised close to $47,000 from over 1,800 donors.
On Thursday, in response to the campaign successfully raising enough funds to release Orta, an assistant district attorney with the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office requested a bail hearing to make sure that the money did not come from illegal sources. Staten Island Live reported that the bail hearing will be held on Monday, while PIX11 has reported that Orta will appear before a judge Friday.
“I’m amazed,” said Kenneth Perry, Orta’s attorney. “Here the D.A. was given 115 pages of names showing who these donors were.”
The office of District Attorney Dan Donovan told PIX11 that bail hearings in criminal cases are not uncommon. Donovan’s office also told PIX11 the connection between Donovan, who is running for Congress in a special election and was endorsed by multiple New York police unions, and the recent development in Orta’s case is not direct.