Manhattan Judge Refuses to Dismiss Case of Daniel Penny in Fatal Subway Choking Incident

Manhattan, New York – A Manhattan judge has denied a motion to dismiss the case of Daniel Penny, who is charged with manslaughter for fatally choking Jordan Neely on a subway car. Neely, a 30-year-old Black man experiencing homelessness, died in May after Penny put him in a chokehold during an incident on the subway. The judge’s decision was based on medical evidence and Neely’s cause of death, ruling that Penny’s actions directly led to Neely’s demise. Defense lawyers had argued that Penny did not intend to harm Neely and that he was trying to protect other passengers on the subway. But the judge deemed the witness evidence presented by prosecutors last year as sufficient for the case to proceed to trial.

The incident occurred on May 1 when Neely began shouting and acting erratically on the train. Witnesses stated that he did not have a weapon or physically harm anyone but was causing a disturbance. Penny, a white man, approached Neely from behind and held him in a chokehold for several minutes, even after Neely stopped resisting. The medical examiner ruled Neely’s death as a homicide caused by compression of the neck.

Penny was indicted on charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in June, and he pleaded not guilty. His defense team argued that his actions were necessary to prevent Neely from harming others. If the case proceeds to trial, a jury will need to determine whether Penny engaged in reckless conduct that created an unjustifiable risk of death to Neely.

Neely was experiencing homelessness and struggled with mental health issues. He was known as a street and subway performer who often impersonated Michael Jackson in Times Square. His family’s lawyers have shared that his mental health struggles began after the traumatic loss of his mother when he was 14 years old. Neely’s death has stirred debates about mental health support and homelessness in the city.

The prosecution has contended that additional evidence is needed to fully understand the events that led to Neely’s death. They argue that witness accounts vary due to the crowded nature of the subway car and that some passengers did not perceive Neely’s outbursts as an immediate threat. The defense, on the other hand, emphasizes that Penny’s actions were driven by a desire to protect fellow riders.

The denial of the motion to dismiss means that the case will move forward and likely go to trial. The next conference meeting is set for March 20. Penny’s lawyers expressed disagreement with the judge’s decision and expressed confidence that a jury, considering the circumstances, will deliver a just verdict. The trial will continue to shed light on the complex circumstances surrounding Neely’s tragic death and the legal implications of Penny’s actions.