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Some NYC Politicians Call Response To Subway Chokehold Death Racist

A video of a New York City subway rider choking and killing a homeless man lasted for four minutes. What happened may seem clear to a layperson. The homeless man, Jordan Neely, is seen writhing, trying to get free from the arms and legs of other subway riders who are pinning him down. As the minutes tick by, Neely visibly weakens as the arm wrapped around his neck stays tight. After he stops moving, the riders hold him down for about 50 more seconds. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Neely’s attacker has not been charged with a crime, raising questions about how such cases are processed by the legal system and angering many left-leaning politicians and activists who have called the process racist. They have asked why the subway rider, who appeared to be white, was not kept in custody, and argued that were he Black, he would have been.


Law enforcement officials say the sequence of events and the laws that may come into play make any potential criminal case more complex than the video would suggest. Neely, a Black man, had been screaming at passengers when the other rider put him in a chokehold for several minutes, until he went limp. He died from compression to his neck as a result of the chokehold, according to the medical examiner, who ruled his death a homicide on Wednesday. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the video “horrific” and said “there have to be consequences.” The man who choked Neely, a former marine, was interviewed by the police and released. If he is charged, the man who applied the chokehold would most likely argue that the force he used against Neely was justified. Prosecutors would have to prove that he used deadly force without believing that Neely was also using deadly force or was about to. To show those things in court, prosecutors would need to have interviewed every one of the many witnesses to the encounter, to make sure that none of them would say something that would hurt the prosecutors’ case. Prosecutors do not typically bring cases unless they believe they can win them. City Council speaker Adrienne Adams said, “The initial response by our legal system to this killing is disturbing and puts on display for the world the double standards that Black people and other people of color continue to face."

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