Daniel Penny pleads not guilty in NYC subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely

Daniel Penny pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

The 24-year-old former Marine was formally arraigned in connection with the chokehold death of Jordan Neely on board an F train last month.

Penny told authorities that Neely was harassing and threatening passengers and that he acted to protect himself and others.

Family members say Neely was homeless and struggled with mental health issues.

JUNE 28: Daniel Penny arrives for an arraignment hearing at NYS Supreme Court on June 28, 2023 in New York City. Penny was arrested and initially charged with 2nd Degree Manslaughter in the chokehold death of Jordan Neely. (Photo by Michael M. Santia

Daniel Penny's attorneys spoke with the press after Wednesday's hearing.

"All the evidence that we've seen so far and all the evidence we expect to see shows that Danny acted reasonably under very difficult circumstances in a confined environment that none of us would ever want to find ourselves in," Thomas A. Kenniff, Penny's attorney, said.

Police say that Neely, a 30-year-old former Michael Jackson impersonator, was unarmed when pinned to the ground by Penny and two other straphangers and placed in the chokehold that the medical examiner ruled as his cause of death.

Supporters of the Neely family have raised the issue that if Penny's goal was to restrain or subdue Jordan, then why did Penny keep him in the chokehold for three minutes until he lost consciousness and subsequently his life.

Daniel Penny arraignment by Christine Cornell

Donte Mills, an attorney for Neely's family, also spoke after Wednesday's arraignment. "Daniel Penny killed a man. He took a life. Everyone who thought donating $3 million would somehow make this go away or buy his pass. It's not going to happen. It didn't work. You gotta ask for a refund."

The $3-million refers to the war chest Penny's supporters have raised for his legal defense.  Penny is reportedly unemployed.  


Jordan Neely is pictured before going to see the Michael Jackson movie outside the Regal Cinemas in Times Square in 2009. (Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Penny will be back in court on October 25.

The maximum penalty for the manslaughter charge is 15 years.