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Soon after the White House demanded a “thorough investigation” into the murder of Jordan Neely, an unhoused Black man, earlier this month on a subway car in New York, the suspect, an ex-Marine, learned he will face second-degree manslaughter charges.
“We can confirm that Daniel Penny will be arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the second degree,” the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced in a statement late Thursday.
Penny was arraigned and criminally charged in a Manhattan court the following day.
Witnesses claim that while riding the F train on May 1, Neely appeared agitated as he sought food. Penny proceeded to place Neely in a chokehold for nearly 15 minutes.
Neely, who had been celebrated for his subway performances impersonating the late pop star Michael Jackson, died shortly after the incident, and while police questioned Penny, they released him without charges.
“Jordan Neely’s killing was tragic and deeply disturbing,” a White House spokesman said last week. “Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. We firmly believe that the events surrounding his death demand a thorough investigation.”
The White House wasn’t the only entity demanding further action. Neely’s death sparked protests and a national debate and brought attention to the occasionally harsh and violent treatment of homeless people, particularly those with mental illness.
Penny’s attorneys defended him despite a national uproar over the incident. They claim that Neely was the aggressor, and his alleged mental illness exacerbated the situation.
“When Mr. Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and the other passengers, Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves until help arrived,” Penny’s lawyers stated. “Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.”
Neely’s relatives responded, alleging Penny never helped Neely and didn’t care about him.
According to Neely’s attorneys, Daniel Penny’s press release was not an apology, and the former marine hasn’t expressed regret for his deadly act.
“It is a character assassination and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan’s life.”