According to a
with the NY Daily News
, at least two key eyewitnesses in the July 17 choking death
of Staten Island resident Eric Garner at the hands of police described a very troubling environment when they were each interviewed by the grand jury for NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
While it's generally assumed that the grand jury in such a case would have taken its job with the the utmost seriousness, Ramsey Orta, 22, who filmed the tragic homicide, and Rodney Lee, 37, who manages the beauty store Eric Garner was killed in front of, painted a picture of an often condescending and generally uninterested collection of people who seemed to have little interest in indicting Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Regarding his perspective on the grand jury, Rodney Lee stated, “They all treated us like we were dumb, like we didn’t know nothing ... I mean, what was the point of us even being there if they weren’t going to listen to us?”
Having witnessed and filmed the entire incident from start to finish, Ramsey Orta expected to testify before the grand jury for at least a few hours. Instead, he was hardly there for ten minutes. The questions he was asked and the behaviors he observed are shocking and disappointing for anyone who loves justice.
Orta went on to say:
“When I went to the grand jury to speak on my behalf, nobody in the grand jury was even paying attention to what I had to say. People were on their phones, people were talking. I feel like they didn’t give (Garner) a fair grand jury. People was on their phones, people were having side conversations, like it was just a regular day to them."
Much to Orta's dismay, the few jurors who actually asked questions, primarily asked questions about why Eric Garner was selling cigarettes and even asked Orta himself if he had a criminal background.
“One grand juror asked me, If you knew he was selling cigarettes, why didn’t you tell him the cops was there? The whole thing was just about Eric — why was he selling cigarettes, did you know he was selling cigarettes? It was bullshit."
These revelations from Orta and Lee seem to only fuel the growing sentiment that grand juries and prosecutors have no true interest in seeing officers indicted and actually serve as a de facto defense in most cases in which the deceased victim seems to be of much more interest than the officer who murdered him.
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