NEW YORK (PIX11) — Daniel Penny, the former Marine who placed Jordan Neely into a fatal chokehold aboard a New York City subway train, released a statement through his lawyers on Friday.

Neely, a locally-known Michael Jackson impersonator who friends say suffered from worsening mental health, died Monday when Penny, a fellow rider, pulled him to the floor and pinned him with a hold taught in combat training.

Penny’s lawyers said that their client was protecting himself after Neely threatened him and other passengers.

“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,” said his lawyers, Thomas Kenniff and Steven Raiser. “Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.”

The medical examiner’s office ruled Wednesday night that Neely, 30, died by compression of the neck. His death was ruled a homicide, but the medical examiner’s office said any determination about criminal culpability would be left to the legal system.

Manhattan prosecutors promised a “rigorous” investigation into whether to bring charges against Penny in the death of Neely.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.