The New York City man whose cellphone video captured the fatal police chokehold of unarmed black man Eric Garner is suing the city for $10 million over a drug arrest that he says was police retaliation.
Ramsey Orta was arrested last June after authorities say he sold an undercover officer $40 worth of the party drug known as Molly. The charges were later dropped.
Lawyer Andrew Plasse tells the Daily News Orta feels he was "unjustly singled out for arrest." The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court claims it was an effort by the NYPD to "discredit" Orta's video.
The July 17, 2014 video showed Garner calling out "I can't breathe" as New York City police officers pinned him down, one holding him in an apparent chokehold, after the 43-year-old man was stopped for selling loose untaxed cigarettes. In the video, Garner tells officers to leave him alone and refuses to be handcuffed.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo is seen putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy, as he was taken to the ground. Garner, who was heavyset and had asthma, was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner's office later ruled Garner's death a homicide. His dying words, immortalized by the footage, became a rallying cry at protests nationwide over police killings of black men amid a nationwide debate over police use of force.
A New York grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in 2014 and he remains on desk duty while police officials await the outcome of an ongoing federal civil rights probe. Pantaleo's attorney has maintained his client didn't violate Garner's civil rights and that he was performing his duties, which he was trained to do.
The city Law Department says it will review the complaint.