The other officers involved in Garner’s killing, all of whom held the 350-pound man down while Officer Daniel Pantaleo strangled him, were granted immunity.
But the man who taped the incident, the man who provided us with a visual record of Garner’s disturbing death, did not avoid an indictment. In fact, Ramsey Orta (the man pictured above hugging Garner’s mother) may spend more time behind bars than the man who killed an unarmed Garner (or the officers who held Garner’s head down on the pavement while he continuously pleaded with them that he couldn’t breathe).
Welcome to 2014.
If you recall, Orta was arrested days after Garner’s death and charged 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 Garner was killed.
From the Huffington Post:
In August, less than a month after filming the fatal July 17 encounter in which Daniel Pantaleo and other NYPD police officers confronted Garner for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, a grand jury indicted Orta on weapons charges stemming from an arrest by undercover officers earlier that month.
Police alleged that Orta had slipped a .25 caliber handgun into a teenage accomplice’s waistband outside a New York hotel. Orta testified that the charges were falsely mounted by police in retaliation for his role in documenting Garner’s death, but the grand jury rejected his contention, charging him with single felony counts of third-degree criminal weapon possession and criminal firearm possession.
It’s been said a grand jury could “indict a ham sandwich,” but if the failure to indict Pantaleo and Darren Wilson, the officer who killed an unarmed Michael Brown just a month after Garner’s death, is any indication, ham sandwiches are the real criminals.
In all seriousness, the use of grand juries in police killings has come under fire — St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has been accused of using the grand jury to protect Darren Wilson, even allowing Wilson to take the stand for hours in his own defense to give his account of what happened the day Brown died.
The Staten Island grand jury transcripts have yet to be released, but it is known that Pantaleo did take the stand. It’s unknown what he said during his time in front of the jury, but we do know the jury was convinced enough to dismiss any possibility of a trial.
The justice system. Land of the free — if you’re a cop anyway.
SOURCE: Huffington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter