Daniel Penny says he was protecting himself, other passengers from Jordan Neely

ByAnthony Carlo WABC logo
Monday, June 12, 2023
Daniel Penny says he was protecting himself from Jordan Neely
Daniel Penny, the Marine facing manslaughter charges in the killing of a homeless man on a Manhattan subway is defending himself. Anthony Carlo has the story.

NEW YORK -- Daniel Penny, the Marine facing manslaughter charges in the killing of a homeless man on a New York City subway is defending himself.

In a video statement from his attorneys, Penny says he was protecting himself and other passengers from an erratic Jordan Neely.

This comes as Manhattan prosecutors are trying to secure an indictment. The case is now before a Grand Jury - sources told ABC News. The jury has to consider whether Neely posed a threat to the safety of other passengers.

SEE ALSO | Man who held Jordan Neely in fatal chokehold on NYC subway 'never intended to harm' him: attorneys

Penny is doubling down on what he says was an imminent danger.

"The three main threats he repeated over and over was 'I'm going to kill you,' 'I'm prepared to go to jail for life,' and 'I'm willing to die,'" said Penny.

Penny says he knew he had to act.

"And I acted in a way that protect the other passengers, protect myself and protect Mr. Neely," he said.

Penny, in pre-taped statement sent to our sister station, ABC7 in New York, detailed fear from fellow passengers before he jumped in.

READ MORE | Jordan Neely, man killed in chokehold on subway, remembered as entertainer shattered by mom's murder

Penny was recorded holding Neely, a 30-year-old homeless man, in a minutes-long chokehold on an F train on May 1.

Witnesses said Neely had been threatening riders. Friends and family say he was long battling mental illness and needed help. He had been arrested more than 40 times.

The case is exposing New York City's failure to address subway safety and mental health.

The case's racial dynamics have also made it a hot-button issue. Neely's supporters have argued that Penny's delayed arrest is an example of a racist system. He surrendered to police 11 days after the killing under mounting public pressure.

"I have questions about the precinct that let the killer out with no charges at all," said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

RELATED | Counter-protesters detained after rally for Daniel Penny, man charged in Jordan Neely's death

Penny claims his actions had nothing to do with race.

"Some people say this was about race, which is absolutely ridiculous. I didn't see a Black man threatening passengers. I saw a man threatening passengers. A lot of whom were people of color," Penny added.

Penny also denounced the claim he was trying to choke Neely to death, saying he was only trying to restrain him.

ABC7 reached out to Neely's lawyers for a response to Penny's new comments. Meanwhile, Penny is prepared to testify before the Grand Jury, explaining these very comments to avoid an indictment.