MANHATTAN (PIX11) — A Manhattan grand jury is expected to convene this week to determine if charges will be filed in Jordan Neely’s chokehold death aboard a New York City subway, officials said.
Neely, 30, a homeless man who was battling a mental health crisis, died last week after being placed in a chokehold on the subway by another rider, Daniel Penny, an ex-Marine, according to city officials. Neely boarded the train and started acting erratically, according to a witness and police. His death was ruled a homicide.
“The way you handle that is not to put him in a chokehold and squeeze the life out of him. A mental issue on a train is not to be sentenced with death,” Rev. Al Sharpton said. “What you will do if you do not prosecute them, in my judgment, is you will set a standard of vigilantism that we can not tolerate.”
Penny, 24, claimed he was acting in self-defense.
“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. Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely,” his lawyers said in a statement.
The incident sparked a series of protests, including crowds who jumped on the subway tracks at around 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the NYPD. There were multiple arrests but six people were still being sought, as of Monday, police said.
The suspects allegedly hopped onto the subway tracks of the Q train at Lexington Avenue and East 63rd Street, according to officials. Train operators reported seeing people on the tracks ahead of a Q train entering the station. About 450 passengers were aboard the train.
Authorities were able to clear the tracks after about 20 minutes and power was restored to the station, allowing trains to proceed.
“Jumping on tracks is dangerous, reckless, and can be life-threatening,” NYC Transit President Richard Davey said in a statement. “While peaceful protest has always been part of the American fabric, endangering transit workers and other responders, while also delaying New Yorkers just trying to get where they need to go, by deliberately risking contact with an electrified third rail, is unacceptable.”