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Broadway-Lafayette Street Subway Station in New York City

A D-line subway train arrives at the Broadway-Lafayette Street station on January 28, 2023, in New York City. | Source: Gary Hershorn / Getty

The NYPD has declined to charge a white vigilante who choked an unarmed and nonviolent Black “vagrant” to death during a confrontation on the subway this week, according to reports.

Graphic video footage shows a Marine veteran taking the law into his own hands on Monday by placing a homeless man with a reported history of mental illness into a deadly chokehold on the subway train car’s floor following a reported loud and aggressive rant. The vigilante was arrested but ultimately released without being criminally charged for his deadly actions.

The New York Daily News reported that Jordan Neely “yelled and threw garbage at commuters” before the vigilante sprang to action.

A witness told the New York Post that Neely, 30, was “screaming in an aggressive manner” about his life challenges before taking off his jacket and throwing it on the ground.

None of the reports claim Neely tried to physically harm anyone.

“That’s when [the witness] said the straphanger came up behind Neely and took him to the ground in a chokehold — keeping him there for some 15 minutes,” the Post reported.

From the Post:

Video taken later shows the man flailing his arms and legs in an effort to free himself as the straphanger has him in a headlock and another bystander helps to hold him down on the floor of the subway train.

“He moved his arms but he couldn’t express anything,” [a witness] said of Neely. “All he could do was move arms.

“Then suddenly he just stopped moving,” [a witness] recalled. “He was out of strength.”

A person can be heard in the video expressing worry about Neely’s well-being off-camera. The man who had been helping the straphanger hold Neely down replies that, “He’s not squeezing no more.” The two then let Neely go after a few seconds, leaving him lying on his side on the ground.

The video footage of the incident is graphic and should be viewed with discretion.



It is unclear if the vigilante was directly approached by Neely, who was ultimately pronounced dead at a local hospital. First responders were unable to revive him in the subway car at the Broadway-Lafayette Street/Bleeker Street train station.

The NYPD has not identified the vigilante aside from the age of 24.

Critics expressed outrage on social media over the lack of an arrest and criminal charges for a situation that likely would have swiftly resulted in both had the killer been black and the victim been white.

One person on Twitter suggested that Neely’s behavior has long been par for the course on New York City subways. Killing people for displaying such behavior, on the other hand, is not.

“I’ve been in New York since late December and on the subway a lot. I’ve seen homeless and mentally-ill people in the stations and on the train. Some of them made passengers nervous, including me once or twice. But never did I feel the need to jump on them,” the tweet said.

Another person tweeted in amazement at how the person who killed Neely was being portrayed as a hero.

“An unhoused man on a subway was loudly upset about not having any food to eat, so an ex marine put him in a chokehold and killed him—because public displays of suffering is offensive to the american public,” the tweet said. “The cops let him go and the media is reporting this as a heroic incident.”

Another Twitter user put it much more bluntly.

“That’s murder, folks. Because someone is acting a fool doesn’t give you the right to kill em,” the tweet seemingly accurately pointed out.

Journalist Soledad O’Brien noted on Twitter how much words matter when she drew attention to how media outlets chose to report that Neely “died” instead of reporting that he had been “killed.”

To be sure, it is unclear how the vigilante killing doesn’t violate the law in some way, fashion or form.

According to all accounts, Neely was not demonstrating any violent behavior. Being loud and angry about hunger and homelessness doesn’t appear to be legal grounds for homicide, let alone manslaughter. If no one is held accountable for Neely’s death, it could set a dangerous new legal precedent that enables scenarios where other vigilantes can decide to kill with impunity based on perceived threats.

New York City officials boasted at the top of the year about how crime has been steadily falling in the subways, crediting an increased police presence for the drop. But none of those additional officers were anywhere to be found on Monday, allowing the unidentified vigilante to literally decide to choose violence and get away with killing a Black life being largely portrayed in the media as disposable.

The incident on Monday is vaguely reminiscent of a vigilante subway shooting in 1984 when a white man named Bernard Goetz shot four Black teenagers accused of trying to rob him. The teenagers, who survived despite various stages of serious injury, maintained that they asked Goetz for $5, not demanded it. As a result, Goetz spent just eight months in prison after only being found guilty of gun possession and acquitted of attempted murder charges.

Separately, Monday’s incident appears to be another instance of white vigilantes being protected by the very laws they appeared to break.

Neely was killed on the same day that a white woman was sentenced to just five hours of community service after she agreed to a plea deal stemming from her intentionally driving a car into a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020, injuring six people. In that case, Kathleen Casillo was notably released on her own recognizance hours after she collided with the protesters and was given a court date instead of being immediately jailed and arraigned.

Not to be forgotten, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of murder in the killings of two men during a racial justice protest in 2020 that the young teenager attended after illegally bringing an assault rifle across state lines from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin.

This is America.


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