NEW YORK (PIX11) – A fundraising page for Daniel Penny, the man seen on video fatally choking a fellow subway rider in Manhattan earlier this month, has generated over $2 million in donations as of Monday.
Penny’s attorneys started the fundraising page to help their client pay for legal fees as he faces a second-degree manslaughter charge in the death of Jordan Neely.
Penny, 24, is accused of putting Neely in a chokehold for at least several minutes after Neely allegedly got on an F train and acted erratically toward other riders, according to police and video of the May 1 incident. Penny’s attorneys have said their client was acting in self-defense when he put Neely in the chokehold.
By the time police arrived, Neely was unconscious and unresponsive. He died at a hospital. The medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide. He died of compression to the neck due to the chokehold, the medical examiner said.
Neely’s family and friends said the 30-year-old was homeless and dealing with worsening mental health issues. Attorneys for the Neely family said Neely’s behavior, however disturbing, did not justify Penny’s actions.
Questions have also been raised about the investigation into Neely’s death.
Penny, a U.S. Marine veteran, was initially taken into custody and questioned by police but he was released without charges. Amid protests and calls for justice, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office began investigating the case.
Penny was charged nearly two weeks after Neely’s death. He surrendered to police on Friday and was freed on bond after his arraignment.
The NYPD’s civilian watchdog organization, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, is investigating why officers decided not to immediately arrest Penny after Neely’s death.
On the fundraising page for Penny, the attorneys said any proceeds collected that exceed what is necessary to cover his legal fees would be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City.
“Daniel Penny is, a [24-year-old] college student and decorated Marine veteran, facing a criminal investigation stemming from him protecting individuals on a NYC subway train from an assailant who later died. Funds are being raised to pay Mr. Penny’s legal fees incurred from any criminal charges filed and any future civil lawsuits that may arise, as well as expenses related to his defense,” the page states. “All contributions are greatly appreciated. Any proceeds collected which exceed those necessary to cover Mr. Penny’s legal defense will be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City.”
This story comprises reporting from PIX11’s Jay Dow and Henry Rosoff.