Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old former Marine charged in the death of Jordan Neely, has spoken out on camera for the first time since the tragic incident.
In a series of videos released by Penny’s lawyers on Sunday, the ex-Marine outlined he had been plunged into a “scary situation” when Neely entered the Subway car, allegedly screaming and threatening to kill people.
“The man stumbled on, he appeared to be on drugs, the doors closed, and he ripped his jacket off and threw it down at the people sitting next to me at my left,” Penny said.
“I was listening to music at the time, and I took my headphones out to hear what he was yelling,” he continued. “The three main threats that he repeated over and over again were ‘I’m going to kill you,’ ‘I’m prepared to go to jail for life’ and ‘I’m willing to die.’”
Though Penny stands at 6’2, Neely still stood taller than him and allegedly “terrified” other passengers with his violent rhetoric.
“There’s a common misconception that Marines don’t get scared. We’re actually taught one of our core values is courage, and courage is not the absence of fear but how you handle fear,” he said. “I was scared for myself but I looked around there was women and children, he was yelling in their faces saying these threats. I just couldn’t sit still.”
Penny further disputed claims he held Neely in a chokehold on the Subway floor for 15 minutes.
“Some people say that I was holding on to Mr. Neely for 15 minutes. This is not true — between stops is only a couple of minutes. So the whole interaction lasted less than 5 minutes,” Penny said. “Some people say I was trying to choke him to death — which is also not true. I was trying to restrain him. You can see in the video there’s a clear rise and fall of his chest, indicating that he’s breathing. I’m trying to restrain him from being able to carry out the threats.”
Penny reiterated his past claim the incident had nothing to do with race.
“I didn’t see a black man threatening passengers, I saw a man threatening passengers, a lot of whom were people of color,” Penny said.
“The man who helped restrain Mr. Neely was a person of color,” he added.. “A few days after the incident I read in the papers that a woman of color came out and called me a hero. I don’t believe that I’m a hero, but she was one of those people I was trying to protect, who were all scared.”
“I was trying to keep him on the ground until the police came. I was praying that the police would come and take this situation over. I didn’t want to be put in that situation but I couldn’t just sit still and let him carry out these threats”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Daniel Penny with manslaughter.
New video released by Daniel Penny.pic.twitter.com/ITZumm4iWU
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) June 12, 2023
Neely had a history of mental issues and often frequented the station as a Michael Jackson impersonator. He also had an active warrant for his arrest for a felony assault. Per CBS News:
Police sources say around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, Neely was allegedly throwing trash, yelling at passengers and acting erratically on the F train at the east Houston and Lafayette street station.
Things quickly escalated when the 24-year-old tried to subdue him by using what appears to be a chokehold.
CBS2 has learned Neely was homeless, had a history of mental illness, and had an active warrant out for his arrest for a felony assault.
Neely’s family has called on Daniel Penny to be hit with murder charges.