A New York grand jury voted on Wednesday to indict Daniel Penny, a former US Marine sergeant, in last month’s killing of Jordan Neely, a homeless man, with a chokehold on a Manhattan subway car, a person familiar with the case said.
Penny, 24, was captured in videos recorded by bystanders putting Neely in a chokehold on May 1 while they rode on an F train in Manhattan.
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The killing drew national attention and sparked protests in May by those angered by the police’s delay in arresting Penny, who is white, with killing Neely, a Black man.
At an initial court appearance last month, Penny was charged with one count of second-degree manslaughter.
The charge or charges in the grand jury indictment will not be unsealed until Penny appears in court on a later date, the person familiar with the case said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on record.
Neither the district attorney’s office nor Penny’s defense lawyer immediately responded to requests for comment.
Penny was arraigned on May 12 at the Manhattan Criminal Court on a charge of second-degree manslaughter, a felony crime that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Judge Kevin McGrath released Penny on a $100,000 bond and ordered him to surrender his passport and to return to court on July 17.
As required to bring an indictment on felony charges in New York, prosecutors from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg presented evidence to a grand jury of 23 Manhattan residents.
Most defendants do not testify to a grand jury themselves, but the New York Times reported that Penny planned to appear before the grand jury under oath.
Neely, a 30-year-old former Michael Jackson impersonator who struggled with mental illness, had been shouting about how hungry he was and that he was willing to return to jail or die, according to eyewitnesses.
Penny has said he acted to defend himself and other passengers on the train, and did not intend to kill Neely. Witnesses have said Neely did not physically threaten or attack anyone before Penny grabbed him.
Penny was questioned by police that day but would not be arrested and make an initial court appearance until 11 days after the killing.
His actions have been defended by conservative broadcasters and Republican politicians around the country, and a legal defense fund for him has drawn nearly $3 million in donations.
The killing renewed debate about gaps in the city’s support systems for homeless and mentally ill New Yorkers.
Neely was well known to some people who work with homeless New Yorkers and had been in and out of city shelters over the years. He had been arrested many times, most recently for punching a 67-year-old woman in 2021, breaking bones in her face.
Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he intended to reduce the number of homeless people seeking shelter in the subway by increasing police patrols and expanding outreach to mentally ill people, including the use of involuntary hospitalizations.
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