DA Announces Charge in Subway Killing

Marine veteran to face count of second-degree manslaughter
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2023 2:40 PM CDT
Updated May 11, 2023 5:40 PM CDT
NYC Mayor, AOC at Odds Over Subway Killing
New York police officers respond to the scene where a fight was reported on a subway train, Monday, May 1, 2023, in New York.   (Paul Martinka via AP)
UPDATE May 11, 2023 5:40 PM CDT

Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran who placed a New York City subway passenger in a chokehold, will be charged with second-degree manslaughter, the Manhattan district attorney's office announced Thursday. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said officials expect arraignment to take place Friday, ABC News reports. The officials provided no other information about their investigation of the death of Jordan Neely.

May 4, 2023 2:40 PM CDT

The death of a street performer on the New York City subway Monday has become a new political flashpoint in the US. On Thursday, NYPD detectives were meeting with prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office to determine whether murder charges were warranted against a 24-year-old Marine veteran who put Jordan Neely in a chokehold, reports the Daily News. Neely lost consciousness and could not be revived. The city medical examiner's officer ruled the death a homicide on Wednesday, and it's now up to police and prosecutors to decide whether to charge the unidentified man.

After New York City Mayor Eric Adams put out a statement Wednesday saying he would refrain from commenting on the case because much was unknown about it, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called his comments a "new low" on Twitter: "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." Asked about her criticism Wednesday night on CNN, Adams—who once worked as an NYPD transit cop—replied, "I don’t think that's very responsible at a time when we’re still investigating the situation," per Fox News. "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."

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  • About Neely: New York magazine notes that Neely had been impersonating Michael Jackson for years on the subway. The 30-year-old was homeless and had been arrested more than 40 times. Many were for minor violations, but the most recent accusation was that he hit a 67-year-old woman in the face as she departed a subway station in 2021. "His mental health deteriorated after his mother was strangled by her boyfriend in 2007 and found in a suitcase on the side of the Henry Hudson Parkway," per the magazine.
  • Vigilante justice: Neely's death has "renewed ongoing conflicts about access to mental health and what some experts warn is an alarming increase in vigilante justice nationally," per USA Today, which digs into both angles. The story notes the death of Neely is calling to mind the 1984 shooting of four Black teenagers on the subway by Bernhard Goetz, who was called the "subway vigilante." Politico notes that multiple reports said Neely, who was Black, was acting aggressively and "erratically" toward subway riders before the Marine veteran, who is white, put him in the chokehold.
(More New York City subway stories.)

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