"I won't deny that I knew the magnitude of this, and I even thought about erasing the video," Santana said in an interview on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes" Wednesday.Consider what happened to Ramsey Orta after he shot footage of the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island:
"I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger. I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community, you know Charleston, and living some place else," the 23-year-old said. "I knew the cop didn't do the right thing."
In an interview with TODAY's Matt Lauer on Thursday, Santana said: "I'm still scared."
"I say life changed in a matter of seconds. I never thought this would happen, that I would be a witness," he told TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview Thursday. "I'm still scared."
Cops busted Orta at his Staten Island home on Feb. 10 for allegedly peddling drugs to undercover officers nine times. Authorities also arrested his mother and brother in the sweep.He's been imprisoned at Rikers Island -- which is, to say the least, not a country club -- and he's been on a hunger strike:
In August 2014, police arrested Orta for criminal possession of a firearm -- just one month after he taped the video showing Garner’s death.
Orta has claimed he’s being framed on trumped-up charges as vengeance. He faces felony charges for both incidents.
Orta, 23, refuses to eat prison food over fears that New York Corrections Department officers will taint it with rat poison—a complaint echoed by 19 other inmates who filed a lawsuit last month claiming they were sickened by blue-green pellets found in their Rikers meatloaf.Orta's wife, Chrissie Ortiz, was also arrested shortly after the video went public. Orta's cousin Lisa Mercado said this on Democracy Now!:
LISA MERCADO: It’s just, ever since the film -- the filming that Ramsey did, it was a constant harassment every day, on a daily basis, within the day hours and it could be 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the morning, police would ride by the home and put spotlights into the windows of the home.And there was this:
LISA MERCADO: ... once he got that video out he got treated differently. I mean, he’s in Staten Island, small little community, and it’s just constant, you know -- they wanted him to not put the video out. They tried to get the video from him a couple of times.On the same show, Ken Perry, one of Orta's lawyers, said this:
AMY GOODMAN: How did they try to get it from him?
LISA MERCADO: By searching him every time they see him walking in the street. They have taken his phone a few times.
AMY GOODMAN: The second time he was arrested, they said to him -- he said they said, you filmed us, now we are filming you?
LISA MERCADO: That was actually in the_New York Daily News_.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Ken Perry, can you talk about this -- this continuing situation with the family, the harassment here?A Gofundme page for Orta has now raised enough money to bail him out. But I'm sure that won't guarantee his safety. His lawyers want a change of venue for any trials -- Staten Island is where a lot of cops live, and there's no way he'll be tried fairly there. And if anything else, um, unusual happen to him, it won't be a surprise.
KEN PERRY: Well, it seems to be a purposeful set of circumstances, where they’re going to show people don’t mess with us. Other than that, I’m not sure what we can really say about it. I mean, these people have had to move out of the area. When Ramsey’s out we want him out of the area as well.