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Jordan Neely's family: Daniel Penny, man in subway chokehold video, "needs to be in prison"

Jordan Neely death case expected to go before grand jury this week
Jordan Neely death case expected to go before grand jury this week 02:36

NEW YORK - A grand jury is expected to meet this week in the case of a Marine veteran accused in the deadly chokehold death of Jordan Neely

Neely's family is reacting. 

"The fact that you feel threatened doesn't give you a badge to become a police officer and take it under your own control," constitutional attorney Andrew Lieb said. 

Lieb said he believes Marine veteran Daniel Penny committed manslaughter when he put Neely in a chokehold until he died. 

"He's a Marine. He knows how to hold someone down without a choke. there are plenty of ways to hold someone down without putting them in fear of their death," Lieb said. 

Last Monday, sources said 30-year-old Neely, a homeless Michael Jackson impersonator, was threatening passengers on an F train, throwing trash and screaming he was hungry. 

Penny tried to subdue him and was seen on video putting him in a chokehold.

The medical examiner ruled Neely's death a homicide

Penny was questioned and released. His attorney later put out a statement statement painting Penny's actions as self-defense. 

We would first like to express, on behalf of Daniel Penny, our condolences to those close to Mr. Neely. Mr. Neely had a documented history of violent and erratic behavior, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness. 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. Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.

For too long, those suffering from mental illness have been treated with indifference. We hope that out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways.

Neely's family blasted Penny's statement as "character assassination," and released their own statement: 

Daniel Penny's press release is not an apology nor an expression of regret. It is character assassination, and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan's life. 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 [Jordan's] history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan's neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing. 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. 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.

Mayor Eric Adams please give us a call. The family wants you to know that Jordan matters You seem to think others are more important than him. You cannot "assist" someone with a chokehold.

"What happened here is someone held someone in a chokehold and choked him to death. There has to be accountability for that," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said. 

Neely's death has sparked outrage from elected officials and community members alike. 

Jordan Neely's family releases statement, calling for Daniel Penny to face charges 02:21

Tension boiled over on Saturday, when hundreds of protestors demanding charges be filed against Penny flooded the 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue station, jumping onto the train tracks, disrupting service. 

Multiple officers were injured. Thirteen people were arrested, and police are looking for six more people involved.

Gov. Kathy Hochul called Neely's death a wake-up call on mental health, pointing to the $1 billion she put in the new state budget to combat the issue. 

"It is saying society's frayed right now. Our people are hurting, and shame on us if we don't step up and say, no, we're here to help," Hochul said. 

A grand jury could rule on whether to indict Penny on manslaughter charges this week. 

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