A Manhattan grand jury has indicted ex-Marine Daniel Penny following the death of homeless man Jordan Neely during a subway confrontation last month.
Penny, 24, was indicted on second-degree manslaughter charges. The Manhattan District Attorney is expected to formally announce the grand jury’s indictment, which is under seal, on Thursday, June 15.
Penny surrendered to police last month to face a second-degree manslaughter charge. He has since been out on a $100,000 bond.
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Penny held Neely, a homeless man and street artist, in a chokehold on the subway train May 1 after Neely began shouting at passengers that he was hungry and thirsty and didn’t care whether he died. Penny forced 30-year-old Neely to the train floor and restrained him in a chokehold until he stopped breathing. A medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide.
He surrendered himself to law enforcement officers on May 12, nearly two weeks after the fatal incident occurred.
The grand jury’s decision means Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will be able to proceed to trial, where Penny, if convicted, may face up to 15 years in prison.
Attorneys for Penny have argued their client acted in self-defense. Neely, who had previously been arrested some 40 times, was allegedly screaming, yelling and threatening other passengers on the F train, according to eyewitnesses.
A GiveSendGo campaign to fund Penny’s legal defense has raised more than $2.8million.
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Attorneys for Penny have argued their client acted in self-defense.
The medical examiner for the city ruled the death a homicide and said Neely died due to ‘compression of the neck.
Following the troubled homeless man’s death, Neely’s family have pushed for Penny to face murder charges.
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Neely, who was homeless at the time of his death, had an extensive documented history of mental health issues. He had previously been arrested for violent incidents on the subway, though it is unknown if any of those arrests led to convictions.
Over the weekend, in a video statement, Penny said he was not trying to kill Neely when he grabbed him, but could also not allow himself to remain passive while Neely threatened fellow passengers.
‘There’s a common misconception that Marines don’t get scared. We’re actually taught one of our core values is courage, and courage is not the absence of fear but how you handle fear,’ he said in a video released on Sunday.
I was scared for myself but I looked around there was women and children, he was yelling in their faces saying these threats. I just couldn’t sit still.’
Penny gave a detailed account of what happened on the subway car. He said: ‘The man (Neely) stumbled on, he appeared to be on drugs, the doors closed, and he ripped his jacket off and threw it down at the people sitting next to me at my left.
He said he took his headphones out from listening to music as he heard Neely yelling in what he deemed a ‘scary situation.’
The three main threats that he repeated over and over again were I’m going to kill you, I’m prepared to go to jail for life and I’m willing to die,’ Penny said.
Penny further described the encounter, saying: ‘You can see in the video there’s a clear rise and fall of his chest, indicating that he’s breathing. I’m trying to restrain him from being able to carry out the threats.’
The former Marine also discredited claims his behavior was racist, saying: ‘Some people say that 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.
A man who restrained Mr. Neely was a person of color.
And then a few days after the incident, I read in the papers that a woman of color came out and called me a hero.
Penny, a Long Island native, thanked those who are supporting him and have donated to his legal fund.