Man who held Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold raises $2M for his defense

Attorney Steven M. Raiser said the extent of the support shows that the circumstances surrounding Daniel Penny's arrest have "struck a chord in the psyche of New Yorkers."

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A fundraising effort for the legal defense of a former Marine who choked a homeless Black man to death on a subway train in New York City has garnered over $2 million.

As of Monday, the “Legal Defense Fund” for Daniel Penny, charged Friday with second-degree manslaughter for killing Jordan Neely, surpassed the $2 million mark.

“The outpouring of support for Danny is always measured by the amount raised,” Penny’s attorney, Steven M. Raiser, told The New York Post, “but what is even more telling is that tens of thousands of people” donated nationwide.

People walk past graffiti calling attention to death of Jordan Neely that was painted on the sidewalk at an entrance to Washington Square Park on Friday, May 5, 2023, in New York City. Manhattan prosecutors have brought criminal charges against Daniel Penny, the man who used a deadly chokehold on Neely, an unruly passenger, aboard a New York City subway train. The incident stirred outrage and debates about the response to mental illness in the nation’s largest transit system. (Photo by Brooke Lansdale/AP, File)

Raiser said the extent of the support shows that the circumstances surrounding Penny’s arrest have “struck a chord in the psyche of New Yorkers.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg must attempt to obtain a grand jury indictment before the case can proceed.

“The message being sent by this massive showing of support,” asserted Raiser, “is that any attempt to undermine the right and duty to protect one another against an imminent threat will be challenged.”

Penny’s lawyers initiated the GiveSendGo campaign on their client’s behalf, claiming he didn’t place Neely in a chokehold to kill the 30-year-old but rather to protect himself and other train passengers.

According to the fundraiser’s web page, the Raiser & Kenniff law firm will manage the funds, donating any extra proceeds to a New York City program promoting mental wellness.

An eyewitness claimed Neely — a former street performer with a lengthy record of mental illness and an arrest history — acted strangely and threatened other passengers during a May 1 subway ride on an F train in Manhattan until Penny intervened.

A bystander’s video captured the final moments of the altercation, showing Penny with his arms wrapped around Neely’s head while other commuters cheer him on.

The city medical examiner determined that Neely’s death was a homicide from “compression of neck [chokehold].”

Numerous contributors support the former infantry squad leader; one even referred to him as a “hero” on the fundraising campaign and suggested he should receive a medal instead of jail time. Neely’s family, however, believes Penny — released on a $100,000 bail — should face murder charges.

“He never attempted to help [Neely] at all,” their attorneys, Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards, said in a statement last week, The Post reported. “You cannot ‘assist’ someone with a chokehold.”

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