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Jordan Neely's loved ones, leaders pay final respects at funeral in Harlem: "Jordan was screaming for help"

Loved ones, New Yorkers mourn Jordan Neely at funeral service
Loved ones, New Yorkers mourn Jordan Neely at funeral service 01:49

NEW YORK -- A funeral service was held for Jordan Neely Friday in Harlem

Family and loved ones gathered early Friday morning to lay him to rest.

There was music inside and out to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Neely, a 30-year-old Michael Jackson impersonator killed on May 1 in a deadly chokehold encounter on the subway. 

The eulogy was delivered by Rev. Al Sharpton

"Jordan was not annoying someone on the train. Jordan was screaming for help," Sharpton said. "We keep criminalizing people with mental illness." 

Full video: Rev. Al Sharpton delivers eulogy for Jordan Neely at funeral in Harlem 21:01

Because of how Neely died, it wasn't just family and friends in attendance to pay their respects. Local leaders and politicians are trying to ensure something like this doesn't happen again. 

"We can't just say you're allowed to choke someone to death, and that Jordan Neely's life mattered," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said. "We gotta talk about how he died, why he died that way, and also the failures that happened long before that."

"Jordan was a New Yorker. He was loved. He was cared for. He was seen by this community. He contributed to this community," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Photos of Jordan Neely from the program of his funeral in Harlem.  Doug Williams/CBS2

Neely's death sparked widespread debate and protests for nearly two weeks. Neely was homeless at the time, and was killed after Daniel Penny, a Marine veteran, held him in a chokehold for several minutes. Penny and other passengers say Neely was acting erratically and threatening them. 

Last week, Penny was arrested and charged with manslaughter before being released on bond. His lawyer says he was acting in self defense. Some of questioning why police released him from custody in the first place.

"When they choked Jordan, they put their arms around all of us. All of us have the right to live," Sharpton said.

Records show Neely had struggled with mental illness following the death of his mother in 2007. His funeral was held in the same church as his mother's funeral, and Rev. Dr. Johnnie Green, who presided over his mother's funeral, led the ceremony Friday. 

Watch Doug Williams' report

Funeral held for Jordan Neely in Harlem 02:03

Neely's casket was carried out Friday as Michael Jackson music echoed in the street, then taken after the service to Kenisco Cemetery in Valhalla and laid to rest in a private ceremony.

"It's getting justice for Jordan, but also there's other people right now who are living life like Jordan," protester Kiara Williams said.

Afterwards, protesters gathered once again, imploring that Neely's death not be in vain.

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