NEW YORK, NY – Daniel Penny officially entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday morning in a Manhattan courtroom to charges in connection with the May 1 death Jordan Neely, a homeless man that the U.S. Marine veteran allegedly choked to death after he was said to have been threatening passengers on a New York City subway train.
Penny’s arraignment took a mere five minutes, during which he pleaded not guilty against charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. The defendant had been previously released on a $100,000 bond, the conditions of which were allowed to remain in place following his arraignment.
Penny, 24, was a passenger on a northbound F train when Neely, 30, entered the car he was in and allegedly started threatening passengers, witnesses say. 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.
“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 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.’”
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.
“Daniel Penny stands indicted for Manslaughter after allegedly putting Jordan Neely in a deadly chokehold for several minutes until and after he stopped moving,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said “I hope Mr. Neely’s loved ones are on the path towards healing as they continue to mourn this tragic loss.”
Penny had previously stated that he was merely acting to protect himself and his fellow passengers, saying that he “couldn’t just sit still” while the seemingly unhinged man was issuing threats. The former Marine also said that he had not intended to kill Neely, and denied that race was a factor in the incident; Penny is White, while Neely was Black.
Neely had an extensive criminal history consisting of over 30 arrests, including several for the unprovoked assault of innocent bystanders on subway platforms.
If convicted, Penny faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.