On the same day that the White House demanded a “thorough investigation” into the death of Jordan Neely, a homeless Black man, it was announced that the suspect, an ex-Marine, will face charges. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced on Thursday, May 11, that Daniel Penny would be charged with second-degree manslaughter.
While riding the F train on May 1, Neely appeared agitated as he sought food. Penny inexplicably placed Neely in a chokehold for nearly 15 minutes. Neely 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 this week, ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the Big Apple. “Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. We firmly believe that the events surrounding his death demand a thorough investigation.”
Due in part to a bystander’s viral video of the incident, Neely’s deaths sparked protests, and a national debate, and brought attention to the treatment of homeless people, particularly those with mental illness.
Advocates and Neely’s supporters expressed anger that police only briefly held Penny and that he has not faced charges. Penny’s attorneys have 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.”
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire national senior correspondent.
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Equally disturbing is the fact that other passengers on the train failed to intervene to stop the killing.