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Court date set after grand jury indicts Daniel Penny in NYC subway death

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Former U.S. Marine Daniel Penny has been indicted by a grand jury in connection with the fatal choking of Jordan Neely aboard a New York City subway train. The exact charges will not be unsealed until Penny appears in court on June 28. Initially charged with second-degree manslaughter, Penny was seen in a viral video pinning Neely, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, to the ground and placing him in a chokehold. Witnesses have said Neely was yelling at passengers and behaving erratically but was not physically threatening anyone or attacking anyone when Penny pinned him.

The incident has sparked conversations about race relations and the treatment of mental illness, with Penny being white and Neely being Black. The medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide, and prosecutors conducted a “thorough investigation” that included interviews with eyewitnesses, 911 callers, and responding officers before moving forward with the criminal charge.

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Attorneys for Penny have vowed to “aggressively defend” him and have pointed to an interview he recently gave in which he said he did not intend to kill Neely but only to hold him down until police arrived. Penny and his attorneys have said Neely was “aggressively threatening” him and other passengers, and Penny took action to defend himself and others until authorities arrived on the scene.

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While the case has drawn comparisons to the 1984 shooting incident on the New York City subway in which a white man, Bernhard Goetz, shot four Black men who he believed were trying to mug him, all four men survived the shooting. Neely lost consciousness while in the chokehold and was officially pronounced dead at a hospital after medical responders could not resuscitate him.

The incident has raised questions about the use of force by law enforcement and civilians, especially in cases involving individuals with mental illnesses. Neely had a documented mental health history, and while he had been previously arrested for several incidents on the subway, it’s unclear how many, if any, led to convictions.

Attorneys for Neely’s family said in a statement that the “indictment is the right result for the wrong he committed,” while attorneys for Penny have said they respect the grand jury’s decision and are confident that a trial jury will find Penny’s actions were fully justified.

As the case moves forward, the nation and the city await the outcome of the trial and the justice that will be served.

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