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MANHATTAN, NY – Daniel Penny, a veteran of the U.S. Marines who made headlines after he put Jordan Neely – a mentally ill homeless man with a violent past – in a fatal chokehold on a New York City subway after he had been allegedly threatening other passengers, was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday on one count of second-degree manslaughter.
Penny, 24, was released on $100,000 bail after he turned himself in to police Friday morning; the case surrounding this incident has driven residents of New York City into two camps, one hailing him as a hero and the other as a murderer.
Penny, now a college student, had been a passenger on a northbound F train on May 1 when Neely entered the car he was in and allegedly started threatening his fellow passengers, according to witnesses.
“He said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll take a bullet, I’ll go to jail’ because he would kill people on the train,” a 66-year-old female witness said of Neely. “He said, ‘I would kill a motherf**ker. I don’t care. I’ll take a bullet. I’ll go to jail. I am ready to die.’”
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According to Penny’s attorney, Thomas Kenniff, his client came up behind Neely and placed him into a chokehold in order to protect himself and the other passengers. Bystander footage shows Penny keeping Neely in the chokehold until he lost consciousness; Neely eventually died while in the hold, with the NYC medical examiner ruling the incident a homicide caused by compression of the neck.
The 66-year-old female witness claimed that Penny didn’t act until Neely’s behavior “got out of hand” and she thanked the former Marine for protecting her and the other passengers on the train.
Freelance journalist Alberto Vazquez, who recorded the incident, said that Neely was “aggressive” with passengers on the train and was screaming threats at them.
“He started screaming in an aggressive manner,” he said. “He said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail. He started screaming all these things, took off his jacket, a black jacket that he had, and threw it on the ground.”
Neely had an extensive criminal history with over 30 arrests to his name, including sucker punching two men in the face on subway platforms in 2019 and punching a 67-year-old woman in the face in 2021 and breaking her nose and orbital bone.
If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Penny faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
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