Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old former Marine who choked Jordan Neely on an F train in Manhattan earlier this month, causing his death, is expected to turn himself in Friday to face manslaughter charges, law enforcement sources said Thursday afternoon.
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed that Penny will face a second-degree manslaughter charge after an 10-day investigation into the fatal choking, which was recorded by a straphanger, went viral and triggered a wave of protests by citizens outraged that Penny was allowed to walk free immediately after the incident.
“We can confirm that Daniel Penny will be arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the second-degree,” said Douglas Cohen, a spokesperson for the Manhattan DA in a statement. “We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow.”
Penny has been under investigation since the May 1 incident when he put Neely, a 30-year-old Black homeless man, in a chokehold that killed him. According to published reports, Neely — a known Michael Jackson impersonator who was homeless — had a long history of mental illness and was reportedly threatening straphangers moments before he encounter Penny.
However, many argue that Penny was too aggressive and killed Neely unnecessarily in an alleged act of vigilantism. Penny was questioned by cops shortly after the incident but released a short time later.
The city’s Medical Examiner eventually ruled Neely’s death a homicide. Bragg said on May 3 that his office had launched a “rigorous ongoing investigation,” and the NYPD asked potential witnesses to the choking to come forward.
According to the Associated Press, attorneys for Penny previously said their client, along with two other riders who helped restrain Neely, had acted in self-defense.
“Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death,” they said in a statement.
Neely’s death sparked protests across the city, citing the incident and Perry’s initial handling by law enforcement as a prime example of ongoing racial injustice in America and New York. While most of the protests were peaceful, there were episodes of ugliness — including a May 9 demonstration in Lower Manhattan that ended with 11 arrests, including that of a New York Times photojournalist.
In an address to the city Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams said that Neely “did not deserve to die,” and urged patience from New Yorkers as the investigation unfolded. He did not, during the address, mention Penny by name.
With reporting by Robert Pozarycki, Sarah Belle Lin and Ethan Stark-Miller