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06th May 2023

Marine who choked Jordan Neely to death on subway breaks silence on incident

Steve Hopkins

‘Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves, until help arrived’

The former marine who put Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a subway in New York prior to his death has claimed he acted in self-defence.

Neely, 30, died after the incident on Monday, having been restrained in the hold for nearly 15 minutes. The altercation was said to have been prompted, witnesses say, by Neely acting in a “hostile and erratic” manner, and yelling that he was hungry and thirsty on the F train.

Daniel Penny put the Black homeless man into a chokehold, but, according to his lawyers, “never intended to harm”, the former Michael Jackson impersonator.

The 24-year-old was briefly taken into custody Wednesday but was released without charge. However, reports suggest moves to change that may gain momentum as early as next week.

Penny was briefly taken into custody by police on Wednesday but was subsequently released without charges.

In a statement on Saturday, Penny’s lawyer, Thomas Kenniff, says that his client “could not have foreseen (Neely’s) untimely death” and that he only intended to restrain Neely, who has been accused of being disruptive on the train before police arrived.

Kenniff also urged elected officials to address the “mental health crisis on our streets on subways”.

The statement began, firstly by expressing, “on behalf of Daniel Penny, our condolences to those close to Mr. Neely.”

It continued: “Mr Neely had a documented history of violent and erratic behaviour, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness. When Mr Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and the other passengers, Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves, until help arrived.

“Daniel never intended to harm Mr Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.”

The statement went on to say, “for too long”, those suffering from mental illness have been “treated with indifference” and the firm hoped that “out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways”.

ABC reported that the case is likely to be heard as early as next week.

The broadcaster noted that it is “typical” for prosecutors to take their time in complex cases before empanelling the jury.

Earlier this week, the medical examiner’s office ruled Neely’s death a “homicide”.

The death has sparked a wave of protests and an outpouring of anger and grief on social media.

In a statement on Thursday, a spokesman for the DA’s office said: “This is a solemn and serious matter that ended in the tragic loss of Jordan Neely’s life.

“As part of our rigorous ongoing investigation, we will review the Medical Examiner’s report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records.

“This investigation is being handled by senior, experienced prosecutors and we will provide an update when there is additional public information to share.”

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