Watch CBS News

Jordan Neely's family says Marine vet Daniel Penny "needs to be in prison" after killing Neely in subway chokehold

Family of man killed on NYC subway demands charges
Family of man killed on NYC subway demands charges 02:00

The family of Jordan Neely, a homeless man who died in a chokehold on a New York City subway train last week, is condemning the actions of the U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was seen on video holding Neely in the fatal restraint.

In a statement released Monday morning by their legal team, Neely's family said that a statement issued last week by the attorney representing Daniel Penny amounts to an "admission of guilt," and that "his actions on the train, and now his words, show why he needs to be in prison."

The statement by Penny's attorney said he "never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death."

The New York City Medical Examiner ruled 30-year-old Neely's death a homicide

Penny was questioned by police and released the same day, and has not been criminally charged. The case is expected to go before a grand jury this week to determine whether or not to bring criminal charges. The grand jury could hear the case as soon as Monday, CBS New York reported. 

The case has sparked days of protests by demonstrators calling for justice for Neely.

Subway Chokehold Death
A group of several hundred people protest the death of Jordan Neely, on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Washington Square Park in New York. Brooke Lansdale / AP

"Daniel Penny's press release is not an apology nor an expression of regret. It is a character assassination, and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan's life," the Neely family said in Monday's statement. "In the first paragraph he talks about how 'good' he is and the next paragraph he talks about how 'bad' Jordan was in an effort to convince us Jordan's life was 'worthless.' The truth is, he knew nothing about Jordans history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan's neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing."

Bystander video footage of the restraint, which happened inside an F train car on May 1, shows Penny lying on the floor beneath Neely with both arms wrapped around his neck. Penny, who is 24, claimed he acted to restrain the man who was behaving erratically, according to witnesses and Penny's attorney, who characterized the chokehold as "a tragic incident on the NYC subway, which ended in the death of Jordan Neely."

Sources previously told CBS New York that Neely was homeless and had a history of mental illness as well as an arrest record for charges that included assault and disorderly conduct. 

His family said Monday that Penny's actions on the train and the subsequent press release spoke to his "indifference" toward Neely's life and "show why he needs to be in prison."

"In the last paragraph, Daniel Penny suggests that the general public has shown 'indifference' for people like Jordan, but that term is more appropriately used to describe himself. It is clear he is the one who acted with indifference, both at the time he killed Jordan and now in his first public message," they said in the statement. "He never attempted to help him at all. In short, his actions on the train, and now his words, show why he needs to be in prison."

The statement from Neely's family concluded with a request to New York City Mayor Eric Adams to "please give us a call."

"The family wants you to know that Jordan matters," it said. "You seem to think others are more important than him. You cannot 'assist' someone with a chokehold."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.