The man accused of causing the death of a New York City subway passenger by putting him in a chokehold last month has been indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan.
Daniel Penny, a U.S. Marine veteran, has sparked a national debate in recent weeks as supporters applaud him for taking action against a homeless man described by fellow passengers as erratic and threatening while critics insist that he must have been motivated by racism against Jordan Neely.
This week, a grand jury approved a charge of second-degree manslaughter against Penny, who released a video statement on Sunday declaring his innocence.
He recalled the “three main threats” he heard Neely make before he decided to subdue the individual, asserting that the man said, “‘I’m going to kill you,’ ‘I’m prepared to go to jail for life,’ and ‘I’m willing to die.’”
Daniel Penny is a hero.pic.twitter.com/3EYtithrac
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) June 12, 2023
Juan Alberto Vazquez was in the subway car at the time of the incident and backed up Penny’s depiction of the situation.
“He said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail,” Vazquez said of Neely. “He started screaming all these things, took off his jacket, a black jacket that he had, and threw it on the ground.”
A woman who witnessed the incident and spoke to the media on the condition of anonymity recalled that Neely said he was ready to kill someone.
“I’m looking at where we are in the tube, in the sardine can, and I’m like, ‘OK, we’re in between stations — there’s nowhere we can go,’” the woman said. “The people on that train, we were scared. We were scared for our lives.”
Describing Penny’s actions as heroic, she said that his only crime is that he “cared for people.”
In response to the situation that unfolded on the train, Penny declared: “I didn’t see a Black man threatening passengers. I saw a man threatening passengers.”
He could spend as many as 15 years behind bars if convicted of the charge against him. As defense attorney Steven Raiser explained, however, “the standard of proof in a grand jury is very low and there has been no finding of wrongdoing.”