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Daniel Penny indicted by grand jury in chokehold death of Jordan Neely on NYC subway

Daniel Penny indicted in Jordan Neely death
Daniel Penny indicted by grand jury in subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely 04:20

Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran who has been charged with killing 30-year-old Jordan Neely with a chokehold on a New York City subway car on May 1, was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office confirmed the indictment on Thursday, following statements about it from the attorney for Neely's family and Penny's attorneys.

"A grand jury has returned a true bill in the case against Daniel Penny. The Supreme Court arraignment will be held on June 28," Doug Cohen, press secretary for the Manhattan DA, said in a statement. "We cannot comment further until the arraignment takes place."

Penney's attorneys said they will "aggressively defend" him when the case goes to trial.

Penny, 24, was originally charged with second degree manslaughter in May, and released on bail.

Daniel Penny Charged With 2nd Degree Manslaughter In Subway Death Of Jordan Neely
Daniel Penny is escorted in handcuffs after turning himself in on May 12, 2023, in New York City. Penny was charged with to second degree manslaughter in the chokehold death of Jordan Neely on a subway train. Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Penny maintains that Neely was behaving erratically on the train and threatening to kill fellow passengers when he moved to subdue him, according to video statements released by his attorneys. After the incident, Penny was initially questioned by police and released without being charged.

A statement released last month by Penny's attorneys said Neely had "a documented history of violent and erratic behavior, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness." It also said Penny "never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death."

In clips of a video interview released by his lawyers on Sunday, Penny described what he said led up to the chokehold, including alleged threats from Neely. 

"The three main threats that 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' ... I was scared for myself, but I looked around, I saw women and children. He was yelling in their faces, saying these threats," Penny said.

Neely, who performed as a Michael Jackson impersonator, was homeless, and family members said he had struggled with mental health after losing his mother as a teen. At his funeral service on May 19, Rev. Al Sharpton said, "Jordan was screaming for help. We keep criminalizing people with mental illness."

"Daniel Penny's indictment is the right result for the wrong he committed," Neely's family said in a statement Wednesday. "The grand jury's decision tells our city and our nation that 'no one is above the law' no matter how much money they raise, no matter what affiliations they claim, and no matter what distorted stories they tell in interviews." 

–Pat Milton contributed reporting.

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