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(Update) Witness who videotaped Eric Garner arrest charged with gun possession: NYPD

The man who caught the final moments of Eric Garner's life on cell phone video was arrested on Saturday evening and charged with gun possession.

eric garner Ramsey Orta The Rev. Al Sharpton introduces Ramsey Orta, the civilian who video recorded the incident with the NYPD and the late Eric Garner, during the funeral service at Bethel Baptist Church.
Credit: Julia Xanthos-POOL/Getty Images

The man who caught the final moments of Eric Garner's life on cell phone video was arrested on Saturday evening and charged with gun possession, police said.

Authorities said Ramsey Orta, 22, was seen by narcotics officers entering a hotel on Staten Island's Central Avenue that local police consider a known narcotics hotspot at around 9:45 p.m. Saturday with an 17-year-old girl identified as Alba Lekaj.

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Police said Orta stepped out of the hotel when he noticed officers approaching him. According to investigators, Orta then placed a .25 caliber handgun in his possession inside the Lekaj's waistband before they were apprehended by police.

The gun, which is said to have been reported stolen in Michigan in 2007, was unloaded.

Both Orta and Lekaj are in police custom and face charges for criminal possession of the firearm. Lekaj also faces a possesion charge after offers found marijuana on her.

This is Orta's second time caught by police with a gun, according to investigators.

On July 17, Orta was at the street corner where Garner — a 43-year-old, 350-pound father of six — was arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Orta's cell phone camera caught the arrest when Officer Daniel Pantaleo is seen on video placing approach Garner from behind before wrapping his arm around Garner's neck.

On late Friday, the city's medical examiner officially declared the cause of Garner's death a homicide by "compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police."

On Sunday afternoon, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association — which earlier argued that Garner would be alive if he had not resisted arrest, said "criminals like Mr. Orta who carry illegal firearms who stand to benefit the most by demonizing the good work of police officers."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who stood with Orta at Garner's funeral last month, told reporters on Sunday afternoon that he had not spoken to Orta or his attorneys. While said he could not speak to whether Orta was targeted after his video went viral, Sharpton said the charges against the 22-year-old had no bearing on the Garner case.

"Let us be clear that the tape that Ramsey recorded has now been validated by the medical examiner's report," Sharpton said.

The civil rights advocate added that Lynch's statement did not contest that officer used a chokehold — a move that the NYPD Patrol Guide handbook has disallowed for more than 20 years — and that the PBA should worry more about explaining the medical examiner's findings than Orta's arrest.

"The tape speaks for itself," Sharpton said.

Requests for comment by an attorney who previously represented Orta were not immediately returned.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

 
 
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