NEW YORK (AP) — A man who recorded video of a white police officer applying a fatal chokehold to a black man has been arrested on drug charges, police said Wednesday.
Ramsey Orta was arrested in Manhattan after selling $40 worth of the euphoria-inducing stimulant MDMA, also known as the party drug Molly, to an undercover officer, authorities said. He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Orta vehemently denies the charges and denies committing the crime, defense lawyer Will Aronin said.
"He maintains this is all part of the harassment he has faced" from law enforcement following the posting of the video last summer, Aronin said.
Last July, Orta recorded a New York Police Department officer restraining Eric Garner, who yelled "I can't breathe!" 11 times before he passed out. Officers said they had suspected Garner of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes and he resisted arrest.
The officer who wrapped his arm around Garner's neck said it was a sanctioned takedown move, not a banned chokehold. The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide and found a chokehold contributed to it. But a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the officer, prompting street protests. A federal probe is ongoing.
Orta's video helped spur reforms to the police department and a nationwide movement pressing for change on how officers treat minorities.
Orta also was arrested in August on a gun charge on Staten Island a few blocks from where officers confronted Garner. He pleaded not guilty, and the case is pending. He has two dozen other arrests, police said.