A law firm representing Daniel Penny, the man accused of killing homeless man Jordan Neely, has released a statement calling Neely’s death a “tragic” incident.
“Earlier this week Daniel Penny was involved in a tragic accident on the NYC Subway, which ended in the death of Jordan Neely. We would first like to express, on behalf of Daniel Penny, our condolences to those close to Mr. Neely,” the statement begins.
The statement then highlights Neely’s “documented history of violent and erratic behavior, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness.”
“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. Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death,” it continues.
The statement concludes with the firm calling for elected officials to do more for the mentally ill.
“For too long, those suffering from mental illness have been treated with indifference. We hope that out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways,” the statement reads.
New: Daniel Penny, the man who choked and killed Jordan Neely, has released a statement through his attorneys pic.twitter.com/QvHS5N69sG
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 6, 2023
As previously reported, Neely, a homeless man previously known for being a freestyle Michael Jackson impersonator, died Monday after Penny, a 24-year-old former Marine, put him in a chokehold.
According to various reports, the chokehold was prompted by Neely yelling at passengers, making threats, and acting erratically. Indeed, according to the New York Post, a bevy of 911 calls were made right before Penny put Neely in a chokehold.
“A total of five emergency calls were made over a four-minute span just before 2:30 p.m. Monday as a Marine — now identified as 24-year-old Daniel Penny — held Neely in a chokehold on the floor of the northbound F train in Lower Manhattan,” the Post reported Friday.
The first call, made around 2:26 pm, was from someone who reported that a physical fight was occurring on the train and that someone was threatening riders.
The second call, reportedly made seconds later, claimed a passenger aboard the train was armed with a knife or gun.
“Two more calls then came in a minute apart, at 2:29 and 2:30, for reports of an assault in progress and threats, respectively,” the Post notes.
The train operator reportedly also called for help:
My report on the latest in the case of Jordan Neely
– MTA Chairman in first public remarks says “terrible episode” makes New Yorkers’ hearts break
– Among a number of 911 calls, new details about how the motorman on that train called for police help pic.twitter.com/71nWbbbfMa
— Dan Rivoli (@danrivoli) May 5, 2023
Penny’s critics say he should have either minded his own business or done something else — anything else — other than put Neely in a chokehold.
But his defenders say he had no other choice and was, in fact, a hero for taking action and protecting the other passengers. As proof of why he was in the right, Penny’s defenders point to Neely’s very sordid past.
“Neely had a documented mental health history. Over the years, cops answered more than a dozen calls about Neely acting out. He suffered from schizophrenia and had told cops he heard voices, police said. The last time cops had Neely hospitalized for psychological evaluation was in February 2021,” according to the New York Daily News.
His criminal record is even worse.
“Neely was arrested 42 times across the last decade, with his most recent bust in November 2021 for slugging a 67-year-old female stranger in the face as she exited a subway station in the East Village,” according to the Daily News.
“The senior citizen suffered a broken nose and fractured orbital bone when she was knocked to the sidewalk, along with swelling and ‘substantial’ head pain after hitting the ground,” the Daily News notes.
Neely reportedly pleaded guilty to felony assault and was sentenced to 15 months in a program that, if completed, would have permitted him to essentially downgrade the charge to a misdemeanor assault and also discharge the original charge.
“But a warrant was issued for his arrest on Feb. 23, when he skipped a court compliance court date where a judge was to be updated on whether he was meeting all the requirements of the program,” according to the Daily Mail.
But it gets worse.
Patrick Neely tried to kidnap a 7-year girl in 2015, he was seen dragging her down the street and sentenced to only 4 months in jail. He also been convicted of randomly punching an old lady in the face, cracking her skull. Also an assault on an elderly man. Save the Bullshit.
— Rob Schmitt (@SchmittNYC) May 5, 2023
He was also arrested in June 2019 for punching a 64-year-old man in the face during a fight in a subway station, and he was arrested in August 2025 for attempting to kidnap a 7-year-old girl.
Combined, it seems his record paints an image of a short-fused man who was prone to snapping and harming other people — ergo why, defenders say, Penny was absolutely in the right to put him in a chokehold.
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