Ramsey Orta, man who taped police putting Eric Garner in chokehold, arrested on weapons charge

Reverend Al Sharpton introduces Ramsey Orta, the man Reverend Al Sharpton introduces Ramsey Orta, the man who recorded the incident between the NYPD and the late Eric Garner, at Garner's funeral on July 23, 2014. Photo Credit: Julia Xanthos-POOL/Getty Images

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The man who recorded police officers putting Eric Garner in a chokehold was arrested over the weekend, police said Sunday as the Rev. Al Sharpton called for federal officials to take over the investigation into Garner's death.

Ramsey Orta, 22, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon after he walked out of a Central Avenue hotel with a 17-year-old girl, Alba Lekaj, police said.

Lekaj was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and possession of marijuana, police said.

Orta allegedly tucked the unloaded, .25 caliber firearm into the waistband of Lekaj's pants just before 10 p.m. Saturday, police said. Narcotics officers had watched the pair enter the Richmond Hotel, which is allegedly well-known for drug activity, moments before.

The gun was reported stolen from Michigan in 2007, police said.

Sunday, Sharpton said Orta's arrest should have "no bearing at all on the case" involving Garner's death while in police custody.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Sharpton called for Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan to hand the Garner investigation over to the federal government.

He said Donovan's office prosecuting Orta -- a witness in Garner's arrest -- is a conflict of interest.

The Staten Island district attorney's office declined to comment Sunday.


Last month, Orta videotaped the attempted arrest and chokehold of Garner, of Staten Island, who died shortly after.

On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death was a homicide caused by the chokehold and chest compression as well the position he was placed in while in police custody.

A finding of homicide by the medical examiner means a death was caused by the actions of another. It isn't in itself a charge of criminal culpability.

The video has sparked a heated debate about NYPD tactics and the relationship between police and communities.