The death of a homeless man who was placed in a chokehold by another New York City subway train passenger as he experienced an apparent mental health episode was ruled a homicide on Wednesday, reports Axios. Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton was among those calling for the death of Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old Michael Jackson impersonator known for his performances in Times Square, to be investigated "as a potential case of manslaughter — if not murder" after video emerged of Monday's incident. As the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner determined Neely died from "compression of neck" or a "chokehold," protesters demanded justice at his vigil at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station in Manhattan. Homicide means a death caused by another person and it's not a ruling on intent or culpability. It's up to police and prosecutors to determine whether charges should be brought. The issues of homelessness and mental illness in New York City subways and on the streets have come to the fore after several incidents, notably a subway shooting that left 10 people with gunshot wounds last year.
The video posted by freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez shows a Black man, later identified as Neely, shouting and pacing before he's restrained by several passengers, including a white man who places an arm around his neck. Neely lost consciousness and died in the hospital on Monday afternoon. "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," said the Manhattan district attorney's office. Dave Giffen of the Coalition for the Homeless, criticized Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams for failing to "provide the critical mental health services desperately needed by so many people in our city." Adams and Hochul have taken steps including increasing police presence and deploying mental health workers in subways.