In a case that has gripped New York City, Marine veteran Daniel Penny has pled not guilty to charges of second-degree manslaughter and negligent homicide. These charges stem from an incident on a Manhattan subway train where Penny allegedly caused the death of Jordan Neely, a homeless man with a known history of mental issues.
On May 1, according to witness reports, Penny, alongside other passengers, restrained Neely, who was reportedly threatening the commuters on board the subway. Penny is said to have placed Neely in a chokehold on the subway car's floor.
Following his plea, Penny was released on $100,000 bail. Thomas Keniff, one of Penny's attorneys, expressed confidence in their case, stating, "We are a long way off from trial, but all the evidence we’ve seen is that our client acted under the law," ABC reported.
Neely, with over 40 arrests to his name, had previously pled guilty to felony assault charges. His most recent arrest involved an assault on a 67-year-old woman, according to the New York Daily News. Neely failed to appear in court for this charge, leading to an active warrant at the time of his death.
Dante Mills, representing the Neely family, criticized Penny, asserting that the Marine veteran did not have the courage to meet Neely's father's gaze.
Following the incident, Penny was indicted on June 14, with New York officials pledging a thorough investigation. Neely's family lawyers commended the grand jury's decision, saying it emphasized that “no one is above the law,” regardless of their financial or social standing, or the narratives they present in interviews.
Meanwhile, Penny's defense team, confident in the strength of their evidence, respects the grand jury's decision but highlights that the standard of proof at this stage is minimal, and no definitive wrongdoing has been determined. Attorney Steven Raiser noted that they were assured that once the evidence is presented at the trial, the jury would deem Penny's actions as justified.
Penny himself has spoken publicly on the matter, dismissing any suggestions that race played a part in his actions. He clarified that he judges people on character, not skin color, emphasizing his love for all cultures and dismissing accusations of white supremacy as laughable.
“This had nothing to do with race,” he said. “I judge a person based on their character. I’m not a white supremacist. I mean, it’s, it’s a little bit comical. Everybody who’s ever met me can tell you, I love all people, I love all cultures.”
The next court appearance for Penny is scheduled for October 25.