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Charges expected for NYC subway rider who put Jordan Neely in fatal chokehold, sources say 

Neely, a subway busker who performed dance routines in costume as Michael Jackson, was unconscious when officers arrived. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
/ Source: NBC News

The 24-year-old subway rider who was seen in a video putting a homeless man in a fatal chokehold on a New York City train is expected to be charged in the incident as soon as Friday, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Daniel J. Penny, a Marine veteran, was taken into custody after the May 1 incident but was released. It is not clear what charges he will face.

Cellphone video captured on a northbound F train showed Penny on the ground holding Jordan Neely in a chokehold following an altercation.

Lawyers for Penny did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon, but said previously that Neely had been “aggressively threatening” their client and other subway riders and that Penny acted to protect himself and others.

Neely, a 30-year-old subway busker who performed dance routines in costume as Michael Jackson, was unconscious when officers arrived at the Broadway and East Houston Street station. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said that Neely died of “compression of neck (chokehold)” and that the manner was homicide.

Jordan Neely dressed as Michael Jackson in New York
Jordan Neely dressed as Michael Jackson in New York in 2009.Andrew Savulich / New York Daily News/TNS via Getty Images file

Neely’s family rejected the Marine veteran’s account. “It is a character assassination and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan‘s life,” the family’s attorneys, Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards, said.

Juan Alberto Vazquez, who was on the subway, told NBC New York that Neely was being aggressive before he was restrained.

“The man got on the subway car and began to say a somewhat aggressive speech, saying he was hungry, he was thirsty, that he didn’t care about anything, he didn’t care about going to jail, he didn’t care that he gets a big life sentence,” Vazquez told the station in Spanish. “That it doesn’t even matter if I died.’”

Neely was held in the chokehold for about 15 minutes, according to Vazquez, who filmed the video. The footage showed two other subway riders appearing to help restrain Neely.

New York police previously said that officers responded to the subway station after receiving a 911 call about a physical fight. An investigation revealed that Neely and Penny had a verbal dispute that “escalated into a physical altercation,” a spokesperson said.

Neely’s death sparked a public outcry and protests in the city.

“His killing at the hands of a fellow passenger and the responses to this violence that took his life have been not only tragic but difficult to absorb,” City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said last week. “Racism that continues to permeate throughout our society allows for a level of dehumanization that denies Black people from being recognized as victims when subjected to acts of violence.” 

“The perceptions of Black people have long been interpreted through a distorted, racialized lens that aims to justify violence against us. It is another example of how far we remain from an equitable and just society,” Adams continued.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters that the video was “horrific” and that the subway riders’ response to Neely was “very extreme.” 

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