[UPDATE: The Staten Island DA has dropped its challenge, see below]

Twenty-three-year-old Ramsey Orta, who videotaped NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Staten Island man Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold last summer, is languishing on Rikers Island, despite posting bail this week. He's been jailed since February as a result of what he claims is retaliation for documenting Garner's death.

Orta was arrested last August for possession of a firearm, and again in February for allegedly selling drugs to undercover officers. But he maintains that he has been targeted by the police since his video sparked global condemnation of the NYPD in July.

Last month over a dozen inmates at Rikers sued the city after finding rat poison in their food, and for the last two weeks Orta has refused to eat prepared prison food, subsisting on food from vending machines and prepackaged items from commissary.

Orta anticipated being released yesterday after a GoFundMe page started by his aunt Lisa Mercado in March raised the $16,250 necessary to make bail. Mercado paid it on Thursday, but Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan blocked Orta's release by requesting a bail source hearing. Donovan, who is running for Congress to replace disgraced balcony-tosser Michael Grimm, says he wants to know whether or not Orta's bail money comes from legitimate sources, and told PIX11 that such a hearing is "common" in criminal cases.

While PIX11 reported this morning that no judge would be available for the hearing until Monday, Orta's lawyer Kenneth Perry tells us the hearing has been pushed up to 2:00 p.m. today. "The judge has made himself available to us at 2 today. We're having a hearing," Perry says. "Originally when I got the call yesterday it [the hearing] was going to be in front of another judge on Monday. Now, possibly because of the outcry, it's being heard today."

Asked about the bail hearing, Perry said the DA has "an absolute right [to investigate the funds], and it's often done in drug cases. Usually, however, in big drug cases. The problem is, they were given the bail package. Included in the package were 113 pages listing names of the people who at that point had given money, with their zip codes. Everyone can go online and see who these people are. Most of them are on Facebook. For [the DA] to claim that a portion of this huge amount of money that's been raised—and is shown directly flowing from GoFundMe to [Orta's] aunt, to the bond person—that it's 'ill gotten gains' is ridiculous."

However, Perry also confirmed that a few GoFundMe contributors have remained anonymous.

Mercado doubled her fundraising efforts when Orta began subsisting on vending machine food, and her campaign was bolstered by an article about Orta's hunger strike published by the Free Thought Project last week. Urging readers to donate, the website quoted Danette Chavis, founder of National Action Against Police Brutality:

“It’s imperative that each and every one of us watch this case closely, for what is being done to Ramsey Orta is being done across the United States to those who would resist the oppressive forces of police. When police have to reach back into the history of a person to justify their actions of “today,” something is very wrong. For the actions committed by the person at the time of arrest should be sufficient. And when it isn’t they ought not be charged with a crime."

As of this morning, 1,835 people have donated to the GoFundMe page, to the tune of $46,762. The Daily Beast reports that all additional funds will go towards Orta's legal fees. Mercado posted an update last night, thanking Orta's supporters:

Since the news came out on what the District attorney office did by blocking Ramsey Orta bail, more support has come threw. I want to say thank you a bigger thank you as it just shows Ramsey Orta does have everyone's support. Also I want to thank each person who now has been donating without being anonymous that's very awesome because as the DA asked why is there anonymous donated , I say "so what !!!!if they anonymous maybe some people are afraid to become another Ramsey Orta being harassed or possibly killed for filming.

As for whether or not Orta will be off Rikers before the weekend, Perry says, "That's our hope."

Update 1:18 p.m.: DA Donovan dropped the challenge to Orta's bail hours before the hearing. Orta's attorney tells us, "I got a call this afternoon from the judge's law secretary telling me that the DA had withdrawn their opposition. We have not heard from the DA's office at all."