Michael Jackson Impersonator Killed on Subway: Protests and Charges Follow
On May 1, 2023, Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old Michael Jackson impersonator who was on a special city watch list and considered a potential risk to himself and others, was killed by a subway passenger, Daniel Penny, who put him in a chokehold on the F train in Manhattan. According to witnesses, Neely had been yelling that he was hungry and thirsty, and that he didn’t care if he went to jail. Penny is facing charges for second-degree manslaughter. The city medical examiner later said that Neely died from a compression of the neck, but Penny’s lawyers said he did not mean to kill him.
Neely, a homeless man with a lengthy criminal record and a history of mental illness, had been on a train at the Broadway-Lafayette station in SoHo, shouting at passengers and begging for food before Penny intervened. Witnesses had reported Neely was aggressive toward other riders on the train, but had not physically attacked anyone before Penny moved to subdue him. The Manhattan district attorney's office announced it would be charging Penny with manslaughter and he surrendered to police on Friday morning.
Penny, a 24-year-old US Marine veteran, appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court to be arraigned on one count of second-degree manslaughter on Friday, just hours after turning himself in at a police station. If convicted of manslaughter, Penny could face a minimum of three-and-a-half years in prison, and as much as 15 years behind bars. On Friday's court appearance, he was released on a $100,000 bond without entering a plea. It is mandatory for him to hand over his passport and obtain permission before traveling outside of New York state. July was marked as the date for his upcoming court appearance.
Neely's death has ignited protests and calls for Penny’s arrest while refocusing attention on struggles with homelessness and mental illness across America. Neely's family's attorneys have condemned Penny’s actions and called his characterizations of Neely a “character assassination.” Many New Yorkers are angry and in mourning. Roughly 50 protesters chanted Neely’s name at the subway station where he died, with flowers on the pavement, and someone had scrawled “Who killed Jordan Neely?” on the tiled wall. Over the weekend, protests persisted as demonstrators marched across Manhattan and obstructed the subway tracks at the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street subway station. No less than three demonstrators were taken into custody.
Neely's father remembered showing him the Jackson 5 on TV and said his son was “great” at emulating the singer. Neely at one point busked in the subway as a Michael Jackson impersonator, and performing gave him confidence and likely helped him cope with mental-health issues. However, Neely was also arrested 42 times over the past decade, including punching a female train passenger, 67, in the face in November 2021.
Donte Mills, a lawyer for Neely’s family, said the 30-year-old wasn’t harming anyone. During a news conference on Friday, Mills stated that there had been no attack. “Mr. There was no attack made by Neely. He refrained from physically contacting anyone. No one was hit by him. But he was choked to death.” Mills added that “Mr.
0. “‘It’s a failure of the system’: before Jordan Neely was killed, he was discarded” The Guardian US, 12 May. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/12/jordan-neely-new-york-social-services-support-mental-health
1. “US man charged in New York City subway chokehold death” Al Jazeera English, 12 May. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/5/12/us-man-surrenders-in-new-york-city-subway-chokehold-death
2. “Daniel Penny, accused in Jordan Neely subway chokehold death, out on bail” CBS News, 12 May. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/daniel-penny-surrenders-jordan-neely-subway-chokehold-death-manslaughter-charge
3. “Jordan Neely Had Demons, But ‘He Didn't Attack Anyone – and He Was Choked to Death,' Family Says” NBC New York, 12 May. 2023, https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/subway-chokehold-jordan-neely-family-speaks-after-daniel-penny-arrest/4328471/
4. “Daniel Penny's lawyers crowdfund defense on site used to raise money for Jan. 6 defendants” Gothamist, 12 May. 2023, https://gothamist.com/news/daniel-pennys-lawyers-crowdfunding-on-a-site-thats-supported-divisive-conservative-causes
5. “Jordan Neely's family say New Yorkers should offer to help erratic homeless people on trains” Daily Mail, 12 May. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12077655/Jordan-Neelys-family-say-New-Yorkers-offer-help-erratic-homeless-people-trains.html
6. “‘Jordan Neely did not deserve to die,’ New York mayor says as he calls for revamped mental health services – and sidesteps talk of homicide investigation” CNN, 10 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/10/us/jordan-neely-eric-adams-nyc/index.html
7. “Daniel Penny, man accused in deadly F train chokehold, arraigned on manslaughter charge” Gothamist, 12 May. 2023, https://gothamist.com/news/daniel-penny-arraigned-on-manslaughter-charge
8. “Jordan Neely's Death: What We Know” The Cut, 12 May. 2023, https://www.thecut.com/article/jordan-neelys-death-what-we-know.html
9. “Ex-Marine charged with New York subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely” BBC, 12 May. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-65573879
10. “Report: Man Who Fatally Choked Jordan Neely To Be Charged” BET, 11 May. 2023, https://www.bet.com/article/au4hc4/jordan-neely-chokehold-death-daniel-penny-charges
11. “Jordan Neely Case: Former Marine, Ex-West Islip HS Athlete Charged In Killing Sparking Protests” Daily Voice, 11 May. 2023, https://dailyvoice.com/new-york/suffolk/jordan-neely-case-former-marine-ex-west-islip-hs-athlete-charged-in-killing-sparking-protests/