Progressive Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg Weighs Charges Against Ex-Marine in Death of Jordan Neely

Progressive Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is weighing whether to charge ex-Marine Daniel Penny in the subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely.


Progressive Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is weighing whether to charge ex-Marine Daniel Penny in the subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely, a homeless person who Penny and other passengers have said verbally threatened them before Neely and others tried to subdue him.

  • Neely, 30, died a week ago Monday from compression of the neck, a death the medical examiner ruled a homicide, which means it was caused by another person and is not a statement about intent or blame. 
  • Neely reportedly began acting erratically on a northbound F train just before 2:30 pm on Monday, May 1. He reportedly began harassing passengers and saying threatening things like he “didn’t care if I go to jail, and if they give me life in prison,” according to witnesses and police
  • While the exact moments leading up to their encounter are not yet clear, Penny, 24, tried to restrain and subdue Neely, with the assistance of other passengers, by putting him in a chokehold. The chokehold would prove fatal. 
  • Police have released 911 calls that have shed some light on the moments leading up to Neely’s death. Police first received a report of a physical fight at 2:26 pm, followed by two reports at 2:27 pm about “threats” and a “customer armed with a knife or gun.” Two more calls came in at 2:29 and 2:30 reporting an assault in progress. 
  • Many media reports have highlighted Neely’s past as a homeless Michael Jackson impersonator who would perform on subway platforms and trains, but this belies his checkered past. 
  • Before the fatal encounter, Neely had been previously arrested 44 times for “multiple assaults, an attempted child abduction, drugs, and indecent exposure.” The day before his death, Neely was under investigation for pushing someone onto the tracks and had an arrest warrant out for him in connection with the violent assault of an older woman. 
  • Neely was reportedly on the city’s “Top 50 list,” an internal record kept by the NYC Department of Homeless Services that tracks those most in need of assistance. Neely’s records show he was the subject of 43 calls for an “aided case,” or for someone who is sick, hurt, or mentally ill. 
  • Penny, 24, released a statement on Friday, saying he had acted in self-defense. “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,” said Penny’s attorneys in a statement. “Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.” 
  • The attorneys for Neely’s family bashed the statement. “Daniel Penny’s press release is not an apology nor an expression of regret,” they said in a statement. “It is a character assassination and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan‘s life,” the attorneys added. 
  • Protesters jumped on the tracks and blocked subway trains on Sunday while calling for Penny to face criminal charges. Police have arrested 12 people so far on charges including obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct, and assault.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • CNN reported prosecutors met about the case over the weekend. More meetings are planned with the medical examiner’s office and detectives working the case as prosecutors determine whether they want to bring charges in this case.
  • The New York Times traced the “disparate paths” of Neely and Penny before their fateful encounter on a New York subway train. Neely was “well known for years to the social work teams that reach out to homeless people on the subways, and had hundreds of encounters with them, according to an employee of the Bowery Residents’ Committee, a nonprofit organization that does subway outreach for the city.”
  • The head of the New York City Council committee overseeing social services blamed New York state government for failing to provide adequate services for mentally ill homeless people like Neely. According to the New York Daily News, at a recent council hearing Councilwoman Diana Ayala said, “We are in a desperate need of inpatient rehabilitation beds in New York State [and] in New York City, and the state has been very purposefully moving away from that model for many years, and I think that they get off the hook a little too easily.”


  • National Review noted progressives aren’t weighing on the justice system – instead, they “have been quick to label Penny a cold-blooded murderer, stripping the conversation of all necessary nuance about mental health and public safety.”
  • Fox News reported a dozen protesters were arrested on Sunday on a slew of charges after entering the tracks and disrupting subway service. Police released photographs of an additional six suspects who fled the scene.
  • The New York Post editorial board called for New York to expand Mayor Adams’ program to treat the seriously mentally ill, even if they refuse. Adams’ new program, B-HEARD, was able to respond to 1,700 out of 2,300 calls in 2022, but “a little patience is deserved, because this administration must clean up the criminal negligence of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Mayor Bill de Blasio.”

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© Dominic Moore, 2023