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Man who shot Eric Garner chokehold video is suicidal, regretful

One year after Eric Garner’s death, Ramsey’s life has been turned upside down. Looking back, Orta wishes he had never filmed the video that enraged a nation and spotlighted police brutality in minority communities.

“Sometimes I regret just not minding my business,” Orta, 23, told Time. “Because it just put me in a messed-up predicament.”

Since the video went worldwide, Orta, his mom and brother moved out of Staten Island, New York, after allegedly being targeted by the NYPD. Ramsey asked Time magazine not to reveal his whereabouts for fear of further harassment by angry members of the New York City Police Department.

Earlier this week, Eric Garner’s family received a $5.9 million pretrial settlement from the City of New York stemming from the racially charged incident that spurred months of volcanic anti-police demonstrations across the United States, CNN reported.

The decision by a New York grand jury not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death...

The decision by a New York grand jury not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, sparked mass protests in Los Angeles and several other cities on December 3, 2014
David Mcnew, Getty/AFP

Garner’s estate filed a lawsuit in October 2014 after Orta’s cell phone video showed Garner, an African-American man, being pinned to the ground in a chokehold by an NYPD officer. At one point, the 6-foot-3, who weighed 350 pounds, was surrounded by five cops.

Police had apprehended Garner, 43, for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on a sidewalk in Staten Island, the New York Times reported. Before that incident, Garner had been arrested more than 30 times since 1980.

The damning video showed Garner repeatedly yelling, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” as cops forcefully held him down. Those words later became a rallying cry at anti-police protests around the country.

Eric eventually stopped breathing and died on the sidewalk. The medical examiner later ruled Garner’s death a homicide. Garner’s death and subsequent protests fueled reforms in how police apprehend criminal suspects, particularly in minority neighborhoods.

Protesters march in Washington DC during nationwide protests  after a grand jury decided not to char...

Protesters march in Washington DC during nationwide protests, after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer in the choking death of Eric Garner, days after a similar decision sparked renewed unrest in Missouri on December 05, 2014
Mladen Antonov, AFP

Eric Garner’s daughter, Erica, said she has watched Ramsey Orta’s video “over 1,000 times.” It’s likely that without the video, the Garner family would not have received a multi-million-dollar settlement.

Orta said he and his family have been arrested multiple times since his video went viral in a pattern he believes is retaliatory harassment for publicizing the Eric Garner chokehold incident.

Orta’s aunt said Ramsey suffers from post-traumatic stress and is suicidal. “He walks around with fear,” said Lisa Mercado. “He talks about, ‘Maybe I should just kill myself. I’m just hurting my entire family.’ He said he knew he was doing the right thing, but it turned out to be hell. It messed us all up.”

Meanwhile, Eric Garner’s family, which had previously rejected a $5 million settlement offer, said the money they received is not a victory because justice has still not been served. The Garner family wants the police officers involved in Eric’s death to go to jail. No officer was indicted in the death.

“Don’t congratulate us,” Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, told reporters. “This is not a victory. The victory will come when we get justice.”

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