The New York Post, which reported the indictment based on sources, said exact charges remain unclear. The charges will be unsealed when Penny is arraigned on the indictment at a later date, a local ABC affiliate reported.
BREAKING: A Manhattan grand jury has indicted former U.S. Marine Daniel Penny in connection with the chokehold death of Jordan Neely aboard a subway train.@TheBuckEsq has more. pic.twitter.com/ufGBVJAl9N
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) June 14, 2023
“I appreciate DA [Alvin] Bragg conducting a thorough investigation into the death of Jordan Neely,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “Like I said when the DA first brought charges, I have the utmost faith in the judicial process, and now that the Grand Jury has indicted Daniel Penny, a trial and justice can move forward.”
Penny, who has been identified as a Marine veteran in his mid-20s, previously surrendered to law enforcement in New York on second-degree manslaughter charges about a month ago. At the time, Penny did not enter a plea and was released on $100,000 bail. A conviction on a manslaughter charge could put Penny in prison for up to 15 years.
Attorneys representing Penny had said they “fully expect that Danny will be exonerated of all charges,” according to ABC News.
Penny and some witnesses claimed Neely, a homeless man known over the years for his dancing Michael Jackson impersonations, as well as mental health issues and extensive criminal history, was shouting and threatening riders aboard a subway train on May 1.
Bystander video showed a man, later identified as Penny, already restraining Neely in a headlock on the floor of a subway train with the help of others. Neely appeared to lose consciousness and was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital, according to the Associated Press. New York City’s medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide due to “compression of neck (chokehold),” but the ruling did not determine culpability.
Lawyers representing Neely’s family have picked up on the claim that Penny held Neely in a headlock for 15 minutes and demanded Penny face a more-serious murder charge. “Daniel Penny wasn’t attacked, he wasn’t hit. But he put him [Neely] in a chokehold. He came up from behind and he didn’t let Jordan go for 15 minutes,” attorney Donte Mills said, according to local news station PIX11.
In video clips released by his lawyers over the weekend, Penny said he jumped into action to protect himself and commuters. Penny also claimed the entire interaction lasted less than five minutes, not 15 minutes as was reportedly stated by an independent journalist who recorded video of the encounter.
New video released by Daniel Penny.pic.twitter.com/ITZumm4iWU
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) June 12, 2023
“Some people say I was trying to choke him to death, which is also not true. I was trying to restrain him,” Penny added. “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.”
In addition, Penny denied that race was a motivating factor. He called such claims “absolutely ridiculous,” adding, “I didn’t see a black man threatening passengers. I saw a man threatening passengers, a lot of whom were people of color.”