New York City grand jurors indicted former U.S. Marine veteran Daniel Penny on Wednesday in the chokehold death of subway rider Jordan Neely.
As Blavity reported, 30-year-old Neely was houseless and known as a Michael Jackson impersonator. A video showed Neely being placed in a chokehold on May 1 by Penny, 24, after several witnesses told police Neely was acting erratically toward other passengers in the subway car.
Penny reportedly held the 30-year-old for several minutes before he stopped moving. He was later taken into custody, where police questioned him about what led to Neely’s death. According to ABC News, Penny told police Neely didn’t threaten him when he stepped in or was violent to others at the time of the incident.
On May 12, the 24-year-old turned himself into authorities, who later charged him with second-degree manslaughter. Charges from the grand jury remain sealed until his next court date on June 28, per the outlet.
The medical examiner’s office ruled Neely’s death as a homicide.
Attorneys for Neely’s family said they agreed with the indictment, which was “the right result for the wrong he committed.”
“The grand jury’s decision tells our city and our nation that ‘no one is above the law’ no matter how much money they raise, no matter what affiliations they claim, and no matter what distorted stories they tell in interviews,” the attorneys said in a statement obtained by ABC News.
On Wednesday, Penny’s defense attorneys said they accepted the grand jury’s decision and the standard of evidence is “very low and there has been no finding of wrongdoing. We’re confident that when a trial jury is tasked with weighing the evidence, they will find Daniel Penny’s actions on that train were fully justified,” according to a statement obtained by NBC News.
Since Neely’s death, many politicians and activists have shed light on many issues plaguing Black Americans in New York City: mental health, houselessness and race.
Neely experienced mental health issues and had an extensive rap sheet with law enforcement. He was one of 50 houseless people added to a watchlist for people who may be a danger to themselves and the public, per Blavity.
According to reports, Neely never recovered mentally after his mother, Christie, was murdered by her boyfriend in 2007. Since then, he experienced changes in his life following the traumatic event.
“Mr. Neely suffered from mental illness which began at age 14 when he experienced the brutal murder of his mother. It is a tragedy for all of us to know that Jordan Neely’s life was also cut short. Mills & Edwards is committed to holding accountable the MTA and Neely’s killer,” his family’s attorneys said in a May statement obtained by NBC New York.
Mayor Eric Adams released a statement Wednesday afternoon and praised Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg regarding the investigation and his faith in the judicial system.
“Like I said when the DA first brought charges, I have the utmost faith in the judicial process, and now that the grand jury has indicted Daniel Penny, a trial and justice can move forward,” the mayor said in his statement, per ABC News.