Neely's Family Not Happy With Manslaughter Charge

They say Daniel Penny should see murder charges after fatal chokehold on NYC subway
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2023 1:40 PM CDT
Subway Rider Charged With Manslaughter in Chokehold Death
Daniel Penny leaves Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday in New York.   (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

A Marine veteran who put a fellow New York City subway rider into a fatal chokehold earlier this month was arraigned Friday morning and charged with second-degree manslaughter, a felony. Per the Washington Post, 24-year-old Daniel Penny surrendered at Manhattan Criminal Court at the request of the Manhattan district attorney's office. After his arraignment regarding the death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely, Penny was released on $100,000 bond, though he isn't allowed to leave New York state without getting the OK from the court, and has also been mandated to turn over his passport within the next 48 hours, according to the DA's office. Penny, who grew up on Long Island, was initially released without being charged in the May 1 incident, in which he was shown on video putting Neely, who's recently experienced homelessness, in a chokehold that lasted several minutes.

The freelance journalist who recorded the killing says Penny, a white man, pinned Neely down after Neely, who's Black, entered the train car, started shouting he was hungry and thirsty, and "aggressively" threw his jacket to the floor. Witnesses say Neely was acting "hostile and erratic," per the New York Times. Others can be seen in the video helping Penny restrain Neely, who has a history of mental illness and more than three dozen arrests—mostly for minor incidents, but a handful for punching people. Neely was rendered unconscious by the chokehold, which the witness said lasted about 15 minutes, and was later declared dead at a hospital. Two days later, the city medical examiner deemed Neely's death a homicide. Penny later released a statement saying his actions were in self-defense, and that he "never intended to harm Mr. Neely."

After his Friday arraignment, Neely's family said the charges were too lenient, saying Penny should've been charged with murder, per NBC News. "Is [a manslaughter charge] enough for someone who choked somebody out on the train and took their life?" family attorney Lennon Edwards said at a presser, adding that Penny "intentionally chose a technique ... that is designed to cut off air." It's not yet clear why a manslaughter charge was chosen over a murder charge. In a statement, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg says there was enough probable cause to arrest Penny after conferring with the medical examiner, conducting witness interviews, and going over pictures and video footage, per the New York Times. "Jordan Neely should still be alive today," Bragg said. Penny is next set to be in court July 17. If convicted, he could see between five and 15 years behind bars. (More Jordan Neely stories.)

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