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Daniel Penny is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Jordan Neely

Daniel Penny leaves Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday in New York.
Jeenah Moon
Daniel Penny leaves Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday in New York.

Updated May 12, 2023 at 2:50 PM ET

Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old man who put Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on the New York City subway more than a week ago, was arraigned and criminally charged in a Manhattan court room Friday.

Penny, a former U.S. Marine who is white, is facing a felony charge of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Neely, a 30-year-old Black man who was homeless. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Penny did not enter a plea and was released after posting the $100,000 bail set by the judge. He was also ordered to surrender his passport within 48 hours of arraignment and not to leave the state of New York.

His next court date is July 17.

Neely's death has raised questions about race, justice, homelessness and mental health in America. Advocates for the homeless in New York Cityhave blamed Neely's death on the city's policies surrounding people experiencing homelessness.

Protests have erupted since his death on May 1, with many calling for more resources for mental health care and to help fight the city's homelessness problem. They have similarly pressed the city's leaders and District Attorney Alvin Bragg to bring criminal charges against Penny sooner. Some thought his office was taking too long to file charges against Penny.

Bragg has said the investigation has included numerous pieces.

"After an evaluation of the available facts and evidence, the Manhattan D.A.'s Office determined there was probable cause to arrest Daniel Penny and arraign him on felony charges. The investigation thus far has included numerous witness interviews, careful review of photo and video footage, and discussions with the Medical Examiner's Office. As this case proceeds, we will be constrained from speaking outside the courtroom to ensure this remains a fair and impartial matter," Bragg said in a statement shortly after the arraignment. "Jordan Neely should still be alive today, and my thoughts continue to be with his family and loved ones as they mourn his loss during this extremely painful time."

Penny's attorneys, Steven Raiser and Thomas Kenniff, said they believe their client would be "fully absolved of any wrongdoing," Gothamist reported.

Neely and Penny were riding on the same subway car when Neely began shouting that he was hungry and thirsty. "Several witnesses observed Mr. Neely making threats and scaring passengers," Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said reading from the bail application read in court Friday.

That's when Penny approached Neely from behind and placed him in a chokehold. He continued to keep him there for several minutes, with two additional passengers helping Penny by restraining Neely's arms.

Penny is receiving support from some members of the public. A GiveSendGo fundraiser for Penny's legal fund, set up by his attorneys, already exceeded $370,000 after his arraignment Friday.

Gothamist reports that the website "bills itself as a Christian fundraising platform and has supported several divisive right-wing cases." That includes fundraisers for the Jan. 6 defendants and Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of killing two men and shooting a third during unrest in Wisconsin in 2020.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 11, 2023 at 9:00 PM PDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Daniel Penny pleaded not guilty. In fact, he did not submit any plea during arraignment.
Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.