Prosecutors said on Thursday that a man who fatally choked an irate New York City subway user has been indicted by a grand jury.
Jordan Neely, a former Michael Jackson lookalike who had suffered in recent years with homelessness and mental illness, passed away on May 1.
Daniel Penny was first charged with manslaughter in connection with the incident last month.
The grand jury’s decision to indict was confirmed by a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
She added that the particular charges would be made public during an arraignment set for June 28.
Penny had been initially charged with second-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum term of 15 years in prison, but the case had to be approved by a grand jury in order for the accusations to move forward.
When Penny, a former U.S. citizen, saw Neely yelling at passengers and pleading for money, she intervened.
With the assistance of two other passengers, Marine pinned him to the floor of the speeding subway vehicle.
Then, for more than three minutes, Penny choked Neely until his body became limp.
According to Penny, Neely said, “I’m going to kill you,” and stated he was “ready to die” or serve a life sentence in prison.
Penny claimed he was defending himself and the other passengers.
In a video, Penny stated, “He was yelling in their faces, saying these threats.”
Penny’s lawyers this week I was unable to remain motionless.
Neely was acting violently and frightening others, but he hadn’t harmed anyone, according to a freelance journalist who videotaped him trying to free himself before collapsing into unconsciousness.
Neely was of black descent.
Penny is a white person. Many people who felt that Neely’s death was an instance of racial injustice protested, which sparked a discussion about vigilantism and public safety in New York City.
Rev. Al Sharpton and other pundits linked the chokehold tragedy to the Bernhard Goetz incident in 1984, in which a white shooter killed four black men on a subway train.
Several of the Republican presidential hopefuls have joined the support network for Penny.
According to Penny’s attorneys, a fund established to cover the cost of his legal defense has amassed more than $2.8 million.
Steven Raiser and Thomas Keniff, the attorneys, expressed their confidence that a jury in a trial would deem Penny’s conduct on the train to be appropriate.
It should be emphasized that the bar of proof in a grand jury is extremely low and there has been no finding of guilt, they said.
“While we respect the grand jury’s decision to move this case forward to trial, it should be noted that the standard of proof in a grand jury is very low and there has been no finding of wrongdoing,” they stated.
Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards, the Neely family’s attorneys, said in a statement that the verdict of the grand jury “tells our city and our nation that ‘no one is above the law,” no matter how much money they raise, no matter what affiliations they claim, and no matter what distorted stories they tell.”
Neely, 30, had previously admitted to attacking a 67-year-old lady who was exiting a subway station in 2021, despite having a history of arrests.
Following a court appearance on May 12, Penny, 24, was freed under $100,000 bail.
The mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, said in a statement on Wednesday that the indictment will enable the administration of justice.
He remarked, “I appreciate DA Bragg completing a complete inquiry into Jordan Neely’s death.
I have the highest trust in the legal system, as I stated when the district attorney originally filed charges, and now that Daniel Penny has been charged by the grand jury, justice can finally be served.