US veteran to be charged over subway chokehold death of homeless man

US News

A 24-year-old US Marine Corps veteran is expected to be charged with manslaughter following the death of a homeless man on a New York subway train.

Prosecutors in Manhattan said they will bring criminal charges against Daniel Penny on Friday after he used a fatal chokehold to pin Jordan Neely, 30, to the ground in a train carriage on 1 May.

“We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow,” the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

Mr Neely, a black homeless man, had been shouting and begging for money but had not physically attacked anyone before he was restrained and put in a chokehold that lasted several minutes, witnesses said.

Mr Neely was found unconscious by police after the train stopped and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

He died from compression of the neck, the city medical examiner ruled.

Police officers at the scene. Pic: AP
Police officers at the scene where Mr Neely was found unconscious on 1 May. Pic: AP

Penny, who is white, was questioned by police in the hours after Mr Neely died but was released without charge.

He is expected to be charged with second degree manslaughter when he is due to appear in a Manhattan Criminal Court later.

His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but they have previously said their client, along with two other passengers who also restrained Mr Neely, had acted in self-defence.

“Daniel never intended to harm Mr Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death,” they said in a statement.

Protesters march through the Broadway-Lafayette subway station. Pic: AP
Pic: AP

A former subway performer known for his impressions of Michael Jackson, Mr Neely struggled in recent years with homelessness and worsening mental illness, friends said.

He had been arrested several times and had recently pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman in 2021 as she left a subway station.

After pleading guilty, he missed a court date, leading to a warrant for his arrest that was still active at the time of his death.

Jordan Neely death. Pic: AP
Pic: AP

Mr Neely’s death has triggered protests and intense debates, with some blaming it on racism and others criticising the city’s response to mental illness and homelessness.

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Dave Giffen, the executive director at Coalition for the Homeless, blamed city and state officials for an inadequate response to the mental health crisis.

While others, including Mayor Eric Adams, have urged New Yorkers to wait for the full facts and investigations, noting that much is still not known about what precipitated the chokehold.

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