The family of Jordan Neely, the 30-year-old man choked to death by another passenger in the New York City subway last week, is speaking out.
In a statement Monday, the family accused Daniel Penny, the man who put Neely in a chokehold, of “character assassination” in his attempts to justify the fatal act.
“The truth is, [Penny] knew nothing about Jordan’s history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan’s neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing,” attorneys for the family said, alluding to Neely’s mental health struggles.
“Daniel Penny suggests that the general public has shown ‘indifference’ for people like Jordan, but that term is more appropriately used to describe himself,” the statement continues. “It is clear he is the one who acted with indifference.”
Penny, a 24-year-old Marine veteran, said in a statement last week that he was acting defensively and “never intended to harm” Neely, whom he described as “aggressively threatening” himself and other passengers on the northbound F train.
“He erupted in the train and then started to yelling violence language, ‘I don’t care if I die, I don’t care if I go to jail, I don’t have any food, I don’t have any beverage, I’m done,’” eyewitness Juan Alberto Vázquez told ABC7 New York.
Graphic video shows Penny holding Neely in a chokehold for at least three minutes, then releasing him, unconscious, on the floor of the car. Other passengers told NBC New York the duration of the hold was closer to 15 minutes.
Medical examiners ruled Neely’s death a homicide, citing his cause of death as “compression of neck (chokehold).”
A grand jury is expected to review the case this week to determine if criminal charges are warranted.