Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old Marine veteran who choked and killed a homeless man on the subway last week, is expected to be arrested on a second-degree manslaughter charge and to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed Mr. Penny’s expected arrest on the charge in a statement.
“We can confirm that Daniel Penny will be arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the second degree. We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow,” the statement said.
Mr. Penny encountered the man, Jordan Neely, 30, on an F train on May 1 and placed him in a chokehold, killing him. Witnesses told the police that Mr. Neely had been shouting at passengers, but there has been no indication that he physically attacked anyone.
The police interviewed Mr. Penny, but released him without charging him. Video of the killing set off protests and the Manhattan district attorney’s office began investigating soon afterward.
Mr. Neely’s killing and the lack of immediate legal repercussions for Mr. Penny became flash points in the city. The struggle on the F train was captured in a four-minute video showing Mr. Penny performing a chokehold on Mr. Neely and holding on for an additional 50 seconds after Mr. Neely stopped struggling.
Many city leaders, politicians and advocates for New Yorkers struggling with homelessness and mental illness called for Mr. Penny’s immediate arrest. They said Mr. Neely’s killing highlighted the city’s failure to care for its most vulnerable and marginalized residents.
Other New Yorkers, while stunned by the killing and critical of Mr. Penny’s actions, reflected on their frustrations and fears about the city’s transit system, even as the rate of major felony crimes on the subway has fallen in recent months.
In a statement released several days after Mr. Neely’s death, Mr. Penny’s lawyers said that their client “never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.”
The lawyers, Steven M. Raiser and Thomas A. Kenniff, also said in the statement that “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.”
Lennon Edwards, a lawyer for the family of Mr. Neely, condemned Mr. Penny’s actions. Mr. Neely “was robbed of his life in a brutal way by someone who decided that they were judge, jury and executioner on the spot,” Mr. Edwards said in an interview. “We can’t have vigilantes, and we can’t have people taking the law into their own hands.”
And family members of Mr. Neely issued a statement saying that Mr. Penny’s “actions on the train, and now his words, show why he needs to be in prison.”
Mr. Neely had been a subway performer known for his impersonation of Michael Jackson but later descended into mental illness and drug abuse.
What is publicly known about the events on the F train in the early afternoon hours of May 1 have been gleaned from two main sources: the video recorded by Juan Alberto Vazquez, a freelance journalist, and a brief report from the police and the Fire Department. There have also been accounts from witnesses who have come forward in recent days.
Before he began filming, Mr. Vazquez said he was on the northbound train at the Second Avenue station in Lower Manhattan when Mr. Neely boarded and began screaming, saying he was hungry and thirsty, and then taking off his jacket and throwing it on the ground. The people near Mr. Neely moved away, he recalled.
Mr. Vazquez then said he heard a thump and saw Mr. Penny and Mr. Neely together on the floor, but hadn’t seen what had happened before Mr. Penny grabbed Mr. Neely.
Mr. Vazquez’s footage begins after Mr. Penny places Mr. Neely in a chokehold and shows Mr. Neely writhing on the ground, trying to break free from Mr. Penny — who had also wrapped his legs around him — and two other men.
The train stopped at Broadway-Lafayette, near SoHo, where it remained standing until emergency responders arrived.
Another passenger can be heard in the video saying that his wife had been in the military and knew about chokeholds, and warning the men that they should make sure Mr. Neely had not defecated on himself.
“You don’t have to catch a murder charge,” he said. “You got a hell of a chokehold, man.”
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