Man accused in chokehold death on New York subway surrenders to police
New York, May 12 (EFE).- The white military veteran accused in the death of a black homeless man on the New York City subway surrendered to police Friday and was released on bail following a court appearance.
Daniel Penny, 24, who served in the United States Marine Corps, turned himself in at a New York Police Department (NYPD) precinct the day after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced that he was being charged with second-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
On May 1, Penny placed Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a subway car as the homeless man was yelling and begging for food.
Neely, a 30-year-old former Michael Jackson impersonator with a history of mental health problems, was pronounced dead at a hospital and the coroner’s office ruled his death a homicide.
Police questioned the ex-Marine following the incident, but he was not arrested, a decision that spurred protests and drew public complaints from politicians.
Video of the incident shows that Penny held Neely in the chokehold on the floor of the car for almost three minutes.
Attorneys for Penny said Thursday after learning of the charges that their client “stepped in to protect himself and his fellow New Yorkers.”
“We are confident that once all the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic incident are brought to bear, Mr. Penny will be fully absolved of any wrongdoing,” lawyers Thomas Kenniff and Steven Raiser said in a statement.
Witnesses have said that while Neely was “behaving erratically,” he did not assault or threaten anyone.
“There was no attack,” Neely family attorney Donte Mills told reporters. “Mr. Neely did not attack anyone, he did not touch anyone, he did not hit anyone. But he was choked to death, and that can’t stand. That can’t be what we represent.”
New York has seen a number of cases where homeless people suffering from mental illness have assaulted and even killed subway passengers.
The Big Apple mayor, black former NYPD Capt. Eric Adams, has expressed sympathy for Neely while warning against a rush to judgment.
“One thing we can say for sure: Jordan Neely did not deserve to die,” Adams said Wednesday during an address at City Hall, “and all of us must work together to do more for our brothers and sisters struggling with serious mental illness.”