In the midst of the truth-telling videos around police brutality and excessive force coming out lately, many are calling for the protection of those who are brave enough to come forward with the evidence clearly showing that police misconduct (and sometimes even murder).
The Staten Island, New York man who videotaped Eric Garner’s death by chokehold was finally released from jail on Friday, after prosecutors initially tried to keep him there, saying they needed to vet the people who raised money for him via a crowdsourcing site.
The New York Daily News reports that Ramsey Orta, 23, has been jailed in New York’s Rikers Island since February, on just under $100,000 bail after being arrested on charges that he sold drugs to undercover cops.
A gofundme.com campaign reportedly raising $47,500 for Orta as of Friday afternoon – mostly in increments of less than $10 — well over the approximately $12,000 needed to secure a bond.
Yet, at Orta’s arraignment, prosecutors asked for a hearing on the source of any bail, a “common practice in drug cases,” ostensibly to funds are not “dirty.” However, activists railed against the delay, accusing officials of conspiring against Orta.
The News reports that initially the district attorney’s office raised objections on Thursday to the bail money, and asked for a hearing on Monday. But following an outcry on social media, the hearing was pushed up to Friday afternoon and Orta was released soon after.
Orta claims that he’s been targeted by cops ever since the Garner video was made public, being arrested for both a gun possession weeks after the video became public as well as the February drug charge.
In fact, The Daily Beast reports that Orta refused to eat prison food over fears that New York Corrections Department officers tainted it with rat poison—a complaint echoed by 19 other inmates who filed a lawsuit last month claiming they were sickened by blue-green pellets found in their Rikers meatloaf.
The News reports that authorities say they have Orta on video selling drugs on nine occasions and also charged his mom and brother.
Orta’s lawyer said the surplus money from the online fundraiser will be used for his criminal defense.
Ramsey Orta, Man Who Took Eric Garner Video, Released On Bail In Unrelated Case http://t.co/YW7vwXaoV3
— CBS New York (@CBSNewYork) April 11, 2015