The request to have charges dropped against Daniel Penny, the former U.S. Marine who put Jordan Neely, a mentally ill homeless man in a deadly chokehold on a New York City train last year, was denied by a judge on Wednesday.
Penny’s attorneys, Steven Raiser and Thomas Kenniff, disagreed with the decision, stating that their client was acting to save other passengers from harm.
“While we disagree with the Court’s decision not to dismiss the indictment, we understand that the legal threshold to continue even an ill-conceived prosecution is very low,” Raiser and Kenniff said in a statement. “We are confident that a jury, aware of Danny’s actions in putting aside his own safety to protect the lives of his fellow riders, will deliver a just verdict. Danny is grateful for the continued prayers and support through this difficult process.”
Penny, 24, pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the death of Neely, 30.
The incident occurred on May 1 when Needly allegedly threatened other passengers on the train. Penny and two other passengers attempted to restrain him. The Marine veteran put Neely into a headlock, which resulted in his death.
“The three main threats that he repeated over and over were ‘I’m going to kill you,’ ‘I’m prepared to go to jail for life,’ and ‘I’m willing to die’,” said Penny.
daniel penny is a hero! pic.twitter.com/EI95LsEpIU
— Wise Troll (@USAisCOLLAPSING) January 17, 2024
Many witnesses corroborated Penny’s story. One witness also reported that Neely had threatened other passengers, which led to the incident.
The woman even stated that she went back to thank Penny.
“I hope he has a great lawyer, and I’m praying for him,” the 66-year-old woman said back in May. “And I pray that he gets treated fairly, I really do. Because after all of this ensued, I went back and made sure that I said ‘Thank you’ to him.”
Other witnesses claimed that Penny held Neely in the position for several minutes, which Penny denied.
“Some people say that I was holding onto Mr. Neely for 15 minutes. This is not true,” said Penny. “The whole interaction was less than five minutes. People say I was trying to choke him to death, which is also not true. I was trying to restrain him.”
According to the New York medical examiner, Neely’s cause of death was compression of the neck and was ruled as a homicide.
Neely had a long history of mental illness and was previously arrested over 40 times.
One question that concerns many is why Neely did not receive the proper mental health treatment. In 2021, Neely was charged after punching an elderly woman in the head inside an East Village deli. The woman, 65-year-old Anne Mitcheltree, reported that the judge in her case did not attempt to get Neely psychiatric treatment.
The judge ordered Penny to return to court on March 20. His trial is expected to begin in the fall.