Daniel Penny, the college student and Marine veteran accused of putting Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on a New York City subway, says he acted in self-defense. Penny’s lawyers say Neely “aggressively” threatened Penny, 24, and other passengers. They added that Penny “never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.” No one has been charged in connection with Neely’s death, which was ruled a homicide. The Manhattan district attorney is investigating, the Washington Post reports. Penny expressed his condolences to those who knew Neely, 30, who performed on the subway as a Michael Jackson impersonator.
The fatal incident has become a flash point after videos surfaced of Neely flailing his arms, kicking his legs and trying to free himself as Penny held him in a chokehold on the floor of the train. Neely was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. The incident drew condemnation from prominent Democratic lawmakers. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted. “Killing is wrong. Killing the poor is wrong. Killing the mentally ill is wrong. Why is that so hard to say?” Witnesses said Neely was acting in a “hostile and erratic manner,” police said. Juan Alberto Vazquez, who took the video of the encounter, said Neely was shouting that he was hungry and thirsty. Penny’s lawyers said they hoped this “awful tragedy” will bring a commitment from those in government to “address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways.” Penny served in the Marines as a rifleman from 2017 to 2021, reaching the rank of sergeant.