Daniel Penny, who allegedly strangled Jordan Neely in the New York subway, issued a statement Friday night through his legal advocates. The law firm of Raiser and Kenniff asserted in the statement that their client never intended to harm Neely but rather acted in self-defense.
"Mr. Neely had a documented history of violent and erratic behavior, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness. 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 and could not have foreseen his untimely death."
The lawyers also took the opportunity to point out that they hope that with this tragedy, a new commitment will emerge to address the mental health crisis on the streets.
"For too long, those suffering from mental illness have been treated with indifference. We hope that out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways."
New: Daniel Penny, the man who choked and killed Jordan Neely, has released a statement through his attorneys pic.twitter.com/QvHS5N69sG
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 6, 2023
Who is Daniel Penny, and what happened?
Penny is a 24-year-old college student with no criminal record who, according to military and police records, was in the Marine Corps for four years and received seven medals. However, the former Marine is now embroiled in tragedy after pinning Jordan Neely to death, a homeless man known for his Michael Jackson impersonations.
Penny was filmed while subduing Neely in a headlock after the impersonator began acting erratically, throwing trash and yelling at passengers on the subway. A medical examiner determined that Neely died by strangulation, and his death was ruled a homicide. However, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office has not yet filed charges against Penny.
"This is a solemn and serious matter that ended in the tragic loss of Jordan Neely's life. As part of our rigorous ongoing investigation, we will review the Medical Examiner's report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records," authorities said.
The Michael Jackson impersonator was arrested 42 times in the last 10 years, and police already had a documented history of his mental health. The most recent warrant for his arrest was issued on February 23 on charges of aggravated assault.