Daniel Penny is led from the Fifth Precinct after surrendering...

Daniel Penny is led from the Fifth Precinct after surrendering to the NYPD on Friday. Credit: Ed Quinn

Marine Corps veteran Daniel Penny of West Islip was freed Friday on a $100,000 bond at an arraignment on a manslaughter charge for allegedly putting a homeless man in a deadly chokehold aboard a subway train in Manhattan.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the court that based on witness interviews, the chokehold victim, Jordan Neely, had boarded the F train that Penny was also riding on May 1 and began “making threats” and scaring passengers. Penny, 24, grabbed Neely and placed him in the chokehold for several minutes; two other men helped restrain Neely's limbs, and "at some point, Mr. Neely stopped moving." 

Penny was later questioned by the police but freed. He surrendered Friday morning after Steinglass' boss, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, announced the charge against Penny.

Penny did not enter a plea, since he hasn't been indicted by a grand jury, a step necessary in New York State to sustain a felony charge. He did not speak, except to answer the judge's procedural questions. If convicted, Penny faces up to 15 years in prison on the charge, second-degree manslaughter, though the sentence could be far less time.

Following Friday's proceeding, Penny was uncuffed and walked out of the courthouse.

A West Islip resident, Penny had turned himself in just after 8 a.m. at the Fifth Precinct in Chinatown. 

At a Friday morning news conference in Manhattan, an attorney for Neely's family said the relatives were "overjoyed" to learn that Penny would be arraigned on charges that day.

"I say keep going, keep going," said attorney Lennon Edwards, as Neely's father, Andre Zachery, and his aunt Mildred Mahzu listened.

Edwards has told prosecutors that he thought a second-degree murder charge against Penny was appropriate.

About 2½ hours after surrendering, a handcuffed Penny was driven in a caravan several blocks downtown to criminal court.

Thomas Kenniff, one of Penny's attorneys, said earlier outside the precinct: “Daniel Penny surrendered at the Fifth Precinct at the request of the New York County District Attorney’s Office. He did so voluntarily and with the sort of dignity and integrity that is characteristic of his history of service to this grateful nation."

The attorney spoke before a media crowd of at least 50 hemmed in by NYPD barricades.

Penny attended West Islip High School and left the Marine Corps in 2021. He lives in the city now, and is pursuing a college degree in architecture, and his dad lives in Nassau County, Kenniff told the judge, Kevin McGrath.

In New York, second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony, is not an intentional crime. It means a person "recklessly" caused the death of another person. To be found guilty of that charge, the law says, it must be determined that the defendant engaged in conduct that "creates or contributes to a substantial and unjustifiable risk that another person's death will occur," is aware of that risk and "consciously disregards" it.

Parts of the chokehold and restraint by the other men were captured on a bystander's video. Neely had a history of mental illness, according to police and reports from his family.

Neely, 30, died of asphyxiation as a result of the chokehold, and his death was ruled a homicide by the city medical examiner.

Neely’s death sparked a number of demonstrations and calls by his family and other advocates to charge Penny with intentional murder. Demonstrators briefly stopped a subway train.

At Penny's arraignment, the prosecutor said that the district attorney's office has been gathering evidence since May 1, including "speaking to numerous eyewitnesses, reviewing video, speaking with 911 callers, responding officers," and more, from the time Neely boarded the Queens-bound F train at the Second Avenue stop.

"Several witnesses observed Mr. Neely making threats and scaring passengers. The defendant approached Mr. Neely from behind and placed him in a chokehold, taking him down to the ground," the prosecutor said. "When the train arrived at the next stop, Broadway-Lafayette, the defendant continued to hold Mr. Neely in the chokehold for several minutes. During the hold, two additional males aided the defendant by restraining Mr. Neely’s arms. At some point Mr. Neely stopped moving."

Neely’s funeral reportedly will take place next Friday at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Jordan Neely had a history of mental illness, according to police and reports from his family. A previous version misstated who had that history.

Marine Corps veteran Daniel Penny of West Islip was freed Friday on a $100,000 bond at an arraignment on a manslaughter charge for allegedly putting a homeless man in a deadly chokehold aboard a subway train in Manhattan.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the court that based on witness interviews, the chokehold victim, Jordan Neely, had boarded the F train that Penny was also riding on May 1 and began “making threats” and scaring passengers. Penny, 24, grabbed Neely and placed him in the chokehold for several minutes; two other men helped restrain Neely's limbs, and "at some point, Mr. Neely stopped moving." 

Penny was later questioned by the police but freed. He surrendered Friday morning after Steinglass' boss, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, announced the charge against Penny.

Penny did not enter a plea, since he hasn't been indicted by a grand jury, a step necessary in New York State to sustain a felony charge. He did not speak, except to answer the judge's procedural questions. If convicted, Penny faces up to 15 years in prison on the charge, second-degree manslaughter, though the sentence could be far less time.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Daniel Penny of West Islip surrendered Friday morning to face arraignment on a second-degree manslaughter charge for allegedly putting a man in a deadly chokehold.
  • Jordan Neely died of asphyxiation as a result of the chokehold and his death was ruled a homicide by the city medical examiner.
  • Penny was freed Friday afternoon after posting a $100,000 bond in connection with the May 1 encounter.
  • An attorney for the victim, Jordan Neely, said the relatives were "overjoyed" to learn of the charge.

Following Friday's proceeding, Penny was uncuffed and walked out of the courthouse.

A West Islip resident, Penny had turned himself in just after 8 a.m. at the Fifth Precinct in Chinatown. 

At a Friday morning news conference in Manhattan, an attorney for Neely's family said the relatives were "overjoyed" to learn that Penny would be arraigned on charges that day.

"I say keep going, keep going," said attorney Lennon Edwards, as Neely's father, Andre Zachery, and his aunt Mildred Mahzu listened.

Edwards has told prosecutors that he thought a second-degree murder charge against Penny was appropriate.

About 2½ hours after surrendering, a handcuffed Penny was driven in a caravan several blocks downtown to criminal court.

Thomas Kenniff, one of Penny's attorneys, said earlier outside the precinct: “Daniel Penny surrendered at the Fifth Precinct at the request of the New York County District Attorney’s Office. He did so voluntarily and with the sort of dignity and integrity that is characteristic of his history of service to this grateful nation."

The attorney spoke before a media crowd of at least 50 hemmed in by NYPD barricades.

Penny attended West Islip High School and left the Marine Corps in 2021. He lives in the city now, and is pursuing a college degree in architecture, and his dad lives in Nassau County, Kenniff told the judge, Kevin McGrath.

Jordan Neely, who died after being put in a chokehold,...

Jordan Neely, who died after being put in a chokehold, is pictured in 2009.  Credit: Tribune Content Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

In New York, second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony, is not an intentional crime. It means a person "recklessly" caused the death of another person. To be found guilty of that charge, the law says, it must be determined that the defendant engaged in conduct that "creates or contributes to a substantial and unjustifiable risk that another person's death will occur," is aware of that risk and "consciously disregards" it.

Parts of the chokehold and restraint by the other men were captured on a bystander's video. Neely had a history of mental illness, according to police and reports from his family.

Neely, 30, died of asphyxiation as a result of the chokehold, and his death was ruled a homicide by the city medical examiner.

Neely’s death sparked a number of demonstrations and calls by his family and other advocates to charge Penny with intentional murder. Demonstrators briefly stopped a subway train.

At Penny's arraignment, the prosecutor said that the district attorney's office has been gathering evidence since May 1, including "speaking to numerous eyewitnesses, reviewing video, speaking with 911 callers, responding officers," and more, from the time Neely boarded the Queens-bound F train at the Second Avenue stop.

"Several witnesses observed Mr. Neely making threats and scaring passengers. The defendant approached Mr. Neely from behind and placed him in a chokehold, taking him down to the ground," the prosecutor said. "When the train arrived at the next stop, Broadway-Lafayette, the defendant continued to hold Mr. Neely in the chokehold for several minutes. During the hold, two additional males aided the defendant by restraining Mr. Neely’s arms. At some point Mr. Neely stopped moving."

Neely’s funeral reportedly will take place next Friday at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Jordan Neely had a history of mental illness, according to police and reports from his family. A previous version misstated who had that history.

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