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Grand Jury Votes to Indict Daniel Penny in Subway Chokehold Killing

A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran who held Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on the New York City subway, according to a source with knowledge of the case.

Penny was indicted on one count each of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter for the homeless man’s May 21 death, sources said.

Neely, who suffered from mental illness and had a long history of violent attacks on subway riders, stormed onto the train at the Second Avenue station in Manhattan at about 2:30 p.m., screaming and threatening passengers.

The death last month has been a lightning rod on issues of mental health, crime and race.

Lawyers for Neely’s family said in a statement that the indictment signaled “the right result for the wrong he committed” during the confrontation on an F train in Manhattan.

“Daniel Penny did not have the right to be the judge, jury and executioner,”

the statement said

Lawyers for Penny said the standard of evidence for a grand jury is “very low and there has been no finding of wrongdoing. We’re confident that when a trial jury is tasked with weighing the evidence, they will find Daniel Penny’s actions on that train were fully justified.”

At an initial court appearance last month, Penny was charged with one count of second-degree manslaughter.

The charge or charges in the grand jury indictment will not be unsealed until Penny appears in court at a later date, a person familiar with the case said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, but New York’s mayor, Eric Adams, acknowledged the indictment in a statement, saying “a trial and justice can move forward”.

“I appreciate DA Bragg conducting a thorough investigation into the death of Jordan Neely. 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,” Adams said in a statement.

Neely was shouting at passengers and begging for money when Penny pinned him to the floor of the moving subway car with the help of two other riders. Penny, a former U.S. Marine, then held Neely in a chokehold that lasted more than three minutes.

Penny has said he was protecting himself and other passengers, claiming Neely shouted “I’m gonna’ kill you” and that he was “ready to die” or go to jail for life.

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Written by Darnell Simmons

Investigative Journalist, social analysis