NEW YORK (PIX11) — After nearly two weeks of deliberation, U.S. Marine Corps. veteran Daniel Penny surrendered to police and was charged Friday in connection with the death of Jordan Neely on a Manhattan subway train.
He now faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for putting Neely in a fatal chokehold during a caught-on-video incident aboard an F train on May 1. Penny’s defense attorney, Thomas Kenniff, spoke in front of the police precinct stationhouse Friday after Penny turned himself in.
“He’s dealing with the situation as I said, with the integrity and honor that is characteristic of who he is, characteristic of his honorable service in the United States Marine Corp, and he has his held up high,” said Kenniff.
Following his arrest, Penny was booked, cuffed, and arraigned in a Manhattan criminal court. He was freed after posting a $100,000 bond.
Penny has his own growing base of support. His attorneys created a fundraising page for his legal defense that has so far collected more than $500,000.
His attorneys previously stated Penny put Neely — a homeless man whose friends and family say was suffering from worsening mental health — into the chokehold because he believed Neely was “aggressively threatening him and other passengers.”
Attorneys for the Neely family say Neely’s behavior, however disturbing, did not justify Penny’s actions. They want the criminal charges upgraded to murder.
“Because someone has either mental illness, or houselessness, or has a history of arrests, does not make them dispensable. It does not mean their life has no value,” said attorney Lennon Edwards. “We need to be mindful of why we feel fear, who we’re projecting our fear on, and what steps we take to remedy ourselves of fear. And it can’t be that we kill our fellow civilians to remedy our fear because fear is subjective.”
Criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Bernarda Villalona says the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office likely declined to pursue a murder or first-degree manslaughter charge because of a higher legal threshold.
“Those two are specific intent crimes, as opposed to manslaughter in the second degree, is that he acted recklessly; he should have known that his actions could have caused the death of Mr. Neely,” said Villalona.
Activist Kimberly Bernard, who was arrested this week, says she has no regrets over participating in the protests and vigils that helped keep this case in the public eye.
“I’m very glad that we did this, because I know for certain, had we not done this, Daniel Penny would not have been charged with any crime,” said Bernard.