Marine Veteran Involved in NYC Subway Death Surrenders to Police

A U.S. Marine veteran who held a homeless man who was acting erratically in a chokehold for several minutes on a subway in New York City turned himself in to authorities Friday morning to face a manslaughter charge.

Daniel Penny was captured on video walking into the 5th Precinct in Chinatown together with his lawyers, Thomas Kenniff and Steven Raiser.

In a brief statement to reporters outside the police station, Kenniff said that he expected an arraignment later on Friday and that the process “will unfold from there.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed this week that Penny will be arrested on a charge of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Jordan Neely. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

“We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow,” Bragg stated Thursday.

A second-degree manslaughter charge in New York will require the jury to find that a person has engaged in reckless conduct that creates an unjustifiable risk of death, and then consciously disregards that risk.

Penny’s law firm, Raiser and Kenniff, said in a statement to news outlets that they are confident he will be “fully absolved of any wrongdoing.”

NTD Photo
Thomas A. Kenniff, attorney for Daniel Penny, speaks to members of media outside at the 5th Precinct in New York on May 12, 2023. (Jeenah Moon/AP Photo)

“When Mr. Penny, a decorated Marine veteran, stepped in to protect himself and his fellow New Yorkers, his well-being was not assured,” they said. “He risked his own life and safety, for the good of his fellow passengers. The unfortunate result was the unintended and unforeseen death of Mr. Neely.”

Last week, the law firm alleged in a statement that their 24-year-old client was acting in self-defense when he held Neely in a chokehold on the F train on May 1, which allegedly caused him to die of compression of the neck, according to the medical examiner.

The attorneys also alleged that their client did not mean to kill Neely, a 30-year-old man whose friends say suffered from worsening mental health. They added Neely had been behaving aggressively toward other passengers on the subway and Penny stepped in to do what he thought was right and seemed reasonable.

Witnesses reported that Neely was complaining loudly, allegedly shouting, “I want food,” “I’m not taking no for an answer,” “I’m ready to go back to jail,” and “I’ll hurt anyone on this train.” They also reported that he had harassed passengers for years.

Neely has a lengthy criminal record that includes dozens of prior arrests and also had a warrant out for his arrest related to a felony assault at the time of his death.

Meanwhile, video footage has emerged online showing Penny and another man who helped to restrain him rendering aid by placing Neely into a “recovery position” after he fell unconscious. The video also shows Neely was still alive after Penny released him from the chokehold.

Growing Mental Health Crisis

Neely’s death has brought renewed attention to several issues in the state, including crime in the subway, how to treat mental health conditions, and the city’s growing homeless population.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement on May 1 that “any loss of life is tragic” while noting that “there were serious mental health issues in play.”

“Let’s let the DA conduct his investigation with the law enforcement officials. To really interfere with that is not the right thing to do,” Adams said.

New York Rep. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez reacted to Adams’s statement, expressing frustration that she couldn’t outright accuse Penny of murder.

“This honestly feels like a new low: not being able to clearly condemn a public murder because the victim was of a social status some would deem ‘too low’ to care about,” she wrote on Twitter. Adams’s statement did not include the words “too low.”

Last week, Penny’s law firm also blamed elected officials for turning a blind eye to mental illness in the state. “We hope that out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways,” they said.

On May 3, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander expressed frustration with Penny’s use of force to subdue Neely.

“NYC is not Gotham. We must not become a city where a mentally ill human being can be choked to death by a vigilante without consequence,” he wrote on Twitter.

Responding to the tweet, former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik asserted that citizens have a right to defend themselves.

“You would, rather New Yorkers, be terrified, assaulted and murdered at the hands of lunatics and thugs!” Kerik wrote. “If you were doing your job, there would be more police on the subway system, so these things would not happen. But do not tell people that they cannot defend themselves!”

The Associated Press and Epoch Times reporter Caden Pearson contributed to this report. 

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