The death of a homeless subway passenger in New York City earlier this month has sparked a public debate over whether 24-year-old Marine veteran Daniel Penny was justified in using a chokehold on Jordan Neely as evidenced in video footage captured by other riders.
Witnesses say, Neely, who had an extensive criminal record involving multiple violent and apparently random assaults, was behaving in an intimidating and erratic manner before Penny stepped in.
Many on the left, however, were quick to view the situation through a racial lens, insisting Neely — a Black man — was “murdered” or even “lynched” by Penny, who is White.
Jordan Neely was murdered.
But bc Jordan was houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself while many in power demonize the poor, the murderer gets protected w/ passive headlines + no charges.
It’s disgusting. https://t.co/YJeQp9bbgE
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 3, 2023
Amid widespread protests and demands for charges against Penny, prosecutors decided to charge him with second-degree manslaughter. He is now free on $100,000 bail but could face as much as 15 years behind bars if convicted.
When he surrendered to authorities, his attorney issued a statement, explaining that he “did so voluntarily and with the sort of dignity and integrity that is characteristic of his history of service to this grateful nation.”
Since then, Penny has spoken up in his own defense, insisting in an interview last week that his actions were not motivated by race as some people initially suggested.
“I judge a person based on their character,” he said. “I’m not a White supremacist.”
The notion that he killed Neely in a fit of racist fury, Penny said, is “a little bit comical,” noting that he had been planning a trip to Africa at the time of the incident.
“Everybody who’s ever met me can tell you, I love all people,” he added. “I love all cultures. You can tell by my past and all my travels and adventures around the world.”
As for what he would tell Neely’s loved ones, Penny said that he is “deeply saddened by the loss of life” and acknowledged that what happened was “tragic.”
Nevertheless, he said a broken system in place in New York has failed everyone involved.
Confirming that he would react in the same manner if he had it to do again, Penny concluded that he lives “an authentic and genuine life” and does not shy away from confronting threats.
As of this writing, an online fundraiser has collected more than $2.7 million to fund his defense.