Ray Orta is the man that videotaped footage of Eric Garner being detained and placed in a chokehold that led to his death. This video has been a crucial piece of evidence and has been seen by millions across the globe. For many, it left no doubt that a grand jury should have little problem bringing charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who was responsible for the chokehold. However, the world was shocked when the grand jury refused to indict Pantaleo. Now Orta is speaking out on his experience with the grand jury.
According to Orta, he was expected to testify for 30 minutes to several hours but to his shock, his testimony was only 10 minutes. Orta claims that the prosecutor and many of the jury members treated him and other witnesses with disrespect. During his testimony, he noted that jurors were holding private conversations, using cellphones and overall, not listening to his statements. When he was questioned about the incident, all inquiries were about Eric Garner and nothing about Pantaleo. The questions centered on “What was Eric doing there? Why was Eric there?” Orta states that only about three jurors asked any questions and nothing pertaining to the cop choking Garner. One juror asked Orta if he had ever been arrested, to which Orta angrily replied, “Miss, what does my criminal history have to do with Eric? We shouldn’t be sitting here talking about then. We should be talking about Eric now. And we should not even be talking about Eric. We should be talking about the cop.”
Orta stated that the exchanges left him so upset and he complained and was told by an assistant district attorney to “watch how I talk.” Orta replied in return, “First of all, you can’t go tell me how to talk. These are my feelings and I feel like there should be no sugarcoating.” Orta went on to state that the prosecutors actually cut his time to testify short. Additionally, he has stated to media, “They treated all of us like we were dumb, like we didn’t know nothing. I mean, what was the point of us even being there if they didn’t want to listen to us?”
A spokesperson for the New York district attorney’s office refused to comment on this account.