UPDATED: 5:45 p.m. ET, May 11, 2023
Originally published on May 4, 2023
The news of the impending arrest of the man who choked an unarmed Black man to death on a New York City subway draws attention to the fate of the two men who assisted in the brazen killing.
Citing the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, CNN reported on Thursday afternoon that Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old Marine shown on video choking Jordan Neely to death last week, is expected to surrender to authorities and be charged with second-degree manslaughter on Friday.
The decision regarding the charge came Thursday afternoon after the DA’s office spent the weekend and much of this week going over the accounts of witnesses who were on the train, as well as video of the incident, the sources said.
CNN has previously reported that the DA was considering whether to go ahead with charges or present the evidence to a grand jury and let them decide whether to indict.
However, nowhere in the report is there a reference to the two men shown on video aiding and abetting Penny, making it unclear whether they will be held accountable for their roles in the vigilante killing on May 1.
The white man who killed Jordan Neely by placing the homeless and hungry Black man in a deadly chokehold on a New York City subway train for a reported 15 minutes on May 1 is rightfully getting the brunt of attention for the brazen vigilante killing.
But to be sure, he was not alone. Far from it.
In fact, it’s safe to say that the reported 24-year-old Marine veteran who took the law into his own hands by fatally attacking Neely was aided and abetted by at least two men, video footage from the homicide scene in the D-line subway car confirms.
Other people are shown standing by and doing nothing. Still, the other two men actively assisted Daniel Penny by helping to restrain Neely, likely making it easier for the victim to be killed.
Little has been said about them.
In case you somehow missed it, Neely, 30, was reportedly in the throes of a mental health crisis when he began screaming about being hungry while riding an F train in Manhattan. Reports ranged from Neely being aggressive to him just being plain annoying. None of the reports described him as violent.
But when Neely reportedly took off his jacket and threw it to the train car’s ground, Penny apparently perceived a physical threat and took it upon himself to employ a deadly chokehold, perhaps one he was trained to use during his time in the armed forces. Penny was arrested, according to reports, but quickly released without any criminal charges being filed, sparking outrage at what critics referred to on social media as a public lynching.
More than a week after Neely was killed, there was yet to be any accountability for his death, including those who helped the man who choked Neely to death.
What did they do?
The widely shared video from inside the subway car opens with the chokehold already fully underway as another man is shown holding down both of Neely’s arms. A second man is shown standing over them as Neely struggles, prompting the chokehold to appear to get even tighter.
That’s when the man standing over them reaches down to push down Neely’s right shoulder, making it more conducive for the chokehold Neely was trying to escape.
A woman is shown stepping over the now-crouching third man with her phone in hand, perhaps angling to get a pic for the ‘gram. But she notably does not attempt to intervene.
By that point, it had been a full minute and a half of Neely being violently restrained in an all-out chokehold with two other men holding him down in an effort that may have enabled Penny to finish the job he started. They certainly didn’t try to stop the chokehold.
As the camera angle shifts, yet another woman is shown standing in a subway car doorway, phone in hand, casually watching Neely’s life being taken from him.
Another woman is shown at the end of the car, not that close to where Neely was choked to death.
After it became apparent that Neely was no longer moving, the third man who held down Neely finally stood up.
But the second man who had been holding down Neely all along appeared to continue to apply pressure to what was likely already a lifeless body. Penny similarly did not let up.
And that’s where the video, and presumably Neely’s life, ended.
Chances are that Penny will eventually be charged with a crime, with the widespread outrage that could pressure local law enforcement to hold him accountable for what a medical examiner determined to be a homicide.
But will the others be identified and prosecuted for their roles in aiding and abetting the chokehold vigilante killer?
No guarantee of justice
As we’ve seen in similar instances of Black men being choked to death on video — Eric Garner and George Floyd, anyone? — there’s no guarantee of justice for one or for all.
In the Garner case, now-former NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo — who jumped on the back of Garner and choked him to death with the help of other officers for the nonviolent suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes — was never indicted. It would take more than five years for the NYPD to even fire Pantaleo, who by that point had already enjoyed at least one pay raise.
In the meantime, the only person held accountable for Garner’s death was a Black woman police officer named Kizzy Adonis, whose punishment was the loss of 20 days of vacation time for basically just standing in the background while Pantaleo et. al. carried out a public execution.
The Floyd case, however, not only prosecuted Derek Chauvin — who used his knee to casually apply deadly pressure to Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes — but also the other officers shown on the scene not intervening in what a jury determined to be murder.
In fact, just this week, the third and final police officer with Chauvin that fateful day nearly three years ago was convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
BUT, the above examples were for police officers, who are generally held to a higher standard than regular civilians.
It is unclear if the reported Marine’s military status is being taken into consideration as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office mulls criminal charges, but that probably shouldn’t factor in since he was neither on duty at the time nor working in a military capacity.
The New York Post reported that the man who placed Neely in the deadly chokehold has retained the services of a high-profile attorney, suggesting his re-arrest was imminent.
But there has been little to no reporting about the other two men who helped restrain Neely to deadly proportions. Only time will tell if they get held accountable for their roles.
This is America.
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