Judge Denies Daniel Penny’s Request to Dismiss Manslaughter Case for Chokehold Death of Jordan Neely

Daniel Penny’s manslaughter and negligent homicide case will move toward a trial in New York after a judge rejected a request to dismiss on Wednesday, according to ABC News. Last year, Penny was charged with the death of Jordan Neely, a homeless man who struggled with mental health, after he placed him in a chokehold on a subway. Penny pleaded not guilty last June.

“The Court has reviewed the cases cited by [the] defendant in light of the evidence presented and finds that, here, the evidence was legally sufficient to establish that [the] defendant acted with both recklessness and criminal negligence,” Judge Maxwell Wiley said in his decision. Wiley also cited the medical examiner’s determination that Neely died of the chokehold, ruling the death as a homicide.

Penny’s case will return to court on March 20, according to ABC News, and a trial will likely begin in the fall.

Penny’s lawyers, Steven Raiser and Thomas Kenniff, disagreed with Judge Wiley’s decision but said in a statement that they were looking forward to the trial. “We are confident that a jury, aware of Danny’s actions in putting aside his own safety to protect the lives of his fellow riders, will deliver a just verdict,” they said.

The incident occurred on May 1 when Neely, who was known for impersonating Michael Jackson, allegedly started acting erratically — or “insanely threatening” to use Penny’s lawyers’ words — on an F train in Manhattan. NBC News quoted witness Juan Alberto Vazquez, who said that Neely was giving a “somewhat aggressive speech” about how hungry and thirsty he was at the time.

Penny, who is a former marine, allegedly felt threatened and reacted by placing the man in a chokehold for six minutes, according to prosecutors. (Vazquez told NBC he thought the hold lasted closer to 15 minutes.) Eventually, Neely stopped moving. Video of the incident showed that Penny continued holding Neely after he stopped moving. He was unconscious when police arrived and was later declared dead at a hospital.


Penny has claimed he acted in self-defense. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.

Neely’s family has asserted that the way Penny’s lawyers described Neely as having a “history of violent and erratic behavior” and that he was “aggressively threatening” Penny was unfair. “The truth is, he knew nothing about Jordan’s history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan’s neck and squeezed and kept squeezing,” they wrote in a statement released last May. They described the claims as “character assassination.”