A high-profile case in New York City has recently garnered the attention of the grand jury, who confirmed the indictment of former U.S. Marine Daniel Penny, initially charged with manslaughter last month.
Penny has been under scrutiny for his actions on May 1, when he employed a fatal chokehold on subway passenger Jordan Neely, who was known to struggle with homelessness and mental illness. Neely, a former Michael Jackson impersonator, was reportedly agitating passengers and pleading for money at the time of the incident.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, led by Alvin Bragg, confirmed the indictment of Penny, creating a stir of anticipation around the forthcoming trial set for June 28. Though Penny’s initial charges were of second-degree manslaughter, the specific charges to be presented at the arraignment are yet to be disclosed.
The event leading to these charges unfolded as Neely was reported to be acting aggressively on the subway, shouting at passengers. Penny, along with two other riders, intervened, with Penny pinning Neely to the subway car floor. The situation escalated as Penny held Neely in a chokehold for over three minutes until Neely’s body went limp.
In a video shared by his lawyers, Penny said he was acting in self-defense and for the safety of other passengers, alleging that Neely was issuing threats, claiming readiness to kill, die, or be jailed for life.
The incident, captured by a freelance journalist, has sparked debate about vigilante action and public safety in New York City. Some have likened the case to the infamous 1984 Bernhard Goetz incident, where a white man shot four black men on a subway train.
Nevertheless, there is a significant amount of support rallying behind Penny, including several Republican presidential candidates. An established fund aiding Penny’s legal defense has accrued over $2.8 million, according to his lawyers, Steven Raiser and Thomas Keniff. They express confidence that a trial jury would justify Penny’s actions.
They responded to the grand jury’s decision, emphasizing that “the standard of proof in a grand jury is very low and there has been no finding of wrongdoing.”
Neely, who had been arrested several times before and had recently pleaded guilty to assaulting a 67-year-old woman, passed away at age 30. Penny, currently 24, was released on a $100,000 bond after his court appearance in May.
In light of the grand jury indictment, New York City Mayor Eric Adams expressed faith in the judicial process and optimism for the pursuit of justice in this case. This trial will undoubtedly serve as a focal point for discussions on public safety and citizen responses to threats in public spaces.