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The Staten Island man who taped the chokehold death of Eric Garner two weeks ago was arrested by narcotics officers on Saturday, according to the New York Times.

Police charged Ramsey Orta with two counts of criminal possession of a .25-caliber Norton semiautomatic handgun. Police say he tried to pass the firearm to a teenager just blocks from the spot where a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer held Garner in a chokehold.

That teen, Alba Lekaj, was also arrested for possession of a gun and marijuana possession.

From the NYT:

Plainclothes narcotics officers approached Mr. Orta shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday on a stretch of Central Avenue known for drug dealing, the police said, and saw him putting an object into Ms. Lekaj’s waistband. After a search, they discovered the weapon, the police said.

Mr. Orta’s arrest immediately provided fodder for the debate over how the authorities should respond to Mr. Garner’s death.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who plans to travel to Washington on Monday to urge the Justice Department to start a civil rights investigation, hastily gathered a news conference in Harlem on Sunday. Mr. Sharpton said that in simultaneously prosecuting Mr. Orta and calling him as a witness in the Garner case, the Staten Island district attorney’s office would create a conflict of interest. “Let the federal government handle it,” he said, “so that there is no question about the objectivity of the investigation.”

Police union officials said Mr. Orta’s arrest showed the dangers faced by officers in that area of Staten Island. By Sunday evening, Mr. Orta had yet to be arraigned after leaving the local precinct station house for Richmond University Medical Center shortly after his arrest. The reason for his hospitalization, officials said, was asthma. He could not be reached for comment.

Lekaj, 17, was released and is back with her family. Orta is expected to be arraigned on Monday.


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