Daniel Penny released a statement through his attorneys on Friday in response to a video that went viral this week that showed him placing Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a New York City subway, which later resulted in Neely’s death.
Penny, a 24-year-old college student and Marine Corps. veteran, “was involved in a tragic incident on the NYC Subway, which ended in the death of Jordan Neely,” the statement said.
The statement, released by the law firm of Raiser and Kenniff, P.C., continued:
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, 30, had been arrested a staggering 42 times over the past decade by the New York Police Department.
The New York Daily News reported that Neely was most recently arrested in November 2021 on felony assault charges after being accused of “slugging a 67-year-old female stranger in the face.” The woman reportedly had serious injuries from the attack and Neely was jailed for over a year.
Witnesses said Neely embarked on an aggressive rant in the subway on Monday afternoon, moving erratically and allegedly screaming that he did not care if he went to jail, according to freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez and a report from The New York Post. Penny subdued Neely with the help of at least one other passenger. The New York City medical examiner confirmed on Wednesday that Neely died from a “chokehold” and ruled the incident a “homicide,” although criminal proceedings would be necessary to determine intent or culpability.
Manhattan prosecutors and detectives met to evaluate whether the case should be presented to a grand jury to determine if charges should be introduced, according to a report from The New York Daily News. One police source told the outlet that five passengers contacted 911 before and during the altercation. Callers reported that Neely was issuing threats, as well as “harassing people” and “attacking people,” and said that the Marine was restraining him until police officers could arrive. Another caller claimed that Neely had a “knife or gun,” although officers did not find any weapons on Neely, who first responders were unable to revive.
Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.