Daniel Penny surrenders on manslaughter charge in NYC subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely

Daniel Penny charges: US Marine veteran faces 2nd-degree manslaughter charge amid outrage over New York City chokehold video

BySteve Almasy, John Miller and Kara Scannell, CNN
Friday, May 12, 2023
Daniel Penny surrenders on manslaughter charge in Jordan Neely's death
US Marine veteran Daniel Penny has surrendered on a second degree manslaughter charge in the NYC subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely.

NEW YORK -- Daniel Penny, a US Marine veteran who held homeless street artist Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on a New York subway train earlier this month, has surrendered to police to face a second-degree manslaughter charge, CNN reported.

Penny has "his head held up high" and is dealing with the situation "with the sort of integrity and honor that is characteristic of who he is" and "of his honorable service," said his attorney Thomas Kenniff.

An arraignment is expected Friday afternoon "and the process will unfold from there," Kenniff said outside the police precinct where Penny surrendered.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said, "We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place (Friday)."

SEE ALSO | NYC mayor condemns chokehold death: 'Jordan Neely did not deserve to die'

Penny's attorneys said they are confident he will be "fully absolved of any wrongdoing."

"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," Penny's attorneys said in a statement Thursday.

Penny restrained Neely, 30, on a Manhattan subway after Neely began shouting he was hungry, thirsty and had little to live for. Neely was pronounced dead at a hospital.

His death was ruled a homicide, though the designation doesn't mean there was intent or culpability, a spokesperson for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said earlier this week, noting at the time it was a matter for the criminal justice system to determine.

Neely had been "acting erratically" before the incident but had not attacked anyone on the train before being put in the chokehold, a witness who recorded the encounter told CNN earlier this month.

Neely's death has ignited protests while refocusing attention on struggles with homelessness and mental illness across America.

The charging decision came Thursday afternoon after the DA's office spent the weekend and much of this week going over the accounts of witnesses who were on the train, as well as video of the incident, according to the sources familiar with the case.

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

CNN reached out Thursday to attorneys representing Neely's family for comment on the latest developments.

Neely's family has criticized Penny's "indifference" and called for his incarceration. "He knew nothing about Jordan's history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan's neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing," the family's attorneys have said.

Neely, who became known for his Michael Jackson impersonations, had experienced mental health issues since 2007, when he was 14 and his mother was murdered, attorneys for his family have said. He had been traumatized after his mother's brutal killing was followed by the discovery of her body in a suitcase, his friend Moses Harper told CNN.

Neely apparently fell on hard times in recent years, according to a friend and a relative.

Before his death, Neely had been on a NYC Department of Homeless Services list of the city's homeless with acute needs -- sometimes referred to internally as the "Top 50" list -- because individuals on the list tend to disappear, a source told CNN.

The list is generally not made public but is compiled in hopes that outreach organizations will be on the lookout for those individuals and alert the city's homeless services department to intervene, the source said. The agency places additional focus on trying to find those on the list and give them the help they need, the source explained.

Penny is a veteran who served in the US Marines, according to law enforcement and military records. He was a sergeant and served from 2017 to 2021, and his last duty assignment was at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, military records show.

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

Penny's attorneys said in a statement last week that Neely had been "aggressively threatening" passengers and Penny and others had "acted to protect themselves."

"Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely," they said.

A law enforcement source previously told CNN that detectives had interviewed Penny.

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