(The Hill) – The former Marine charged in the chokehold death of Jordan Neely on a New York subway earlier this month argued it “had nothing to do with race” in a recent interview.
Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old white man, placed Neely, a 30-year-old Black man, in a chokehold for nearly 15 minutes, while he was reportedly experiencing a mental health episode. Neely was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Penny was charged with second-degree manslaughter nearly two weeks after Neely’s death, which a medical examiner determined was caused by compression of the neck. He was freed pending trial hours after turning himself in at a police station and appearing in court to answer criminal charges.
“I judge a person based on their character,” Penny told the New York Post in an interview. “I’m not a white supremacist.”
“I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life,” he added. “It’s tragic what happened to him. Hopefully, we can change the system that’s so desperately failed us.”
However, when asked if he did anything to be ashamed of, he responded, “I always do what I think is right.”
Penny and his attorneys have argued that he was acting in defense of himself and others on the subway. However, witnesses have said that while Neely was pacing and yelling in the train, he did not physically threaten or attack anyone before Penny placed him in the fatal chokehold.
Neely’s death has sparked national outrage, as well as a swift political response. Shortly after Neely was killed, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) criticized the city’s delay in charging Penny and the media’s coverage of the incident.
“Jordan Neely was murdered,” she tweeted. “But [because] Jordan was houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself while many in power demonize the poor, the murderer gets protected w/ passive headlines + no charges.”
Conservatives, on the other hand, are jumping in to offer their support for Penny. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is expected to launch his 2024 presidential campaign next week, called Penny a “good Samaritan.”
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also running for the Republican nomination, suggested that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) should pardon Penny.