Marine veteran Daniel Penny faced a setback on Wednesday as a judge denied a motion to dismiss charges against him in a New York City subway death case that made national headlines. The incident, which took place in May of 2020, involved Penny restraining Jordan Neely, a homeless man who was allegedly threatening passengers on a subway car. Penny, 25, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
The defense had filed a motion to dismiss the case in October, stating that Neely exhibited aggressive and threatening behavior and that Penny and others acted in self-defense. Witnesses recalled Neely yelling that someone was going to die and behaving in a “satanic” manner. Bystander video showed Penny restraining Neely in a headlock, but it is unclear from the footage if he lost consciousness during the incident. Neely was later pronounced dead at a hospital, and the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide due to “compression of neck (chokehold).”
Despite the defense’s arguments, the judge in the case, Maxwell Wiley, decided not to dismiss the charges against Penny. He stated that he needed more time to review a separate request by the defense to suppress search warrant evidence. The case is expected to return to court on March 20.
Penny’s attorneys released a statement expressing their disappointment with the decision but also saying that they are confident a jury will deliver a just verdict. The statement also acknowledges that the legal threshold for continuing with a prosecution is low.
The ruling on Wednesday was a victory for the family of Jordan Neely, according to their attorney Dante Mills. He stated that the grand jury’s decision to press charges against Penny for Neely’s death was important and that the judge’s decision not to overrule it shows that Penny will face consequences for his actions. The family expects Penny to be found guilty when the case returns to court in March.
Daniel Penny, accused in subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely, appears in court today for dismissal hearing pic.twitter.com/BWtyG1ig6n
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) January 17, 2024
In response to claims that race was a factor in Neely’s death, Penny’s attorneys released video footage of him denying any racial motivation behind his actions. Penny, who is white, stated that he did not see a black man threatening passengers but rather saw a man threatening passengers, many of whom were people of color. The defense has consistently argued that race played no part in the incident.
The case has garnered national attention and sparked protests calling for justice for Neely’s death and for police reform. The incident has also reignited discussions around the use of excessive force by law enforcement, particularly against people of color.
Penny, who is a Marine veteran, has been free on bail since being charged in connection with Neely’s death. He could face a maximum sentence of 15 years for second-degree manslaughter and four years for criminally negligent homicide. The judge’s decision to continue with the case means that Penny will go to trial and, if found guilty, could face severe penalties.
The defense has also requested that the search warrant evidence in the case be suppressed, which could impact the outcome of the trial. However, if the motion is denied, the prosecution will have access to this evidence and may use it to strengthen their case against Penny.
The case has raised questions about the use of force in situations involving individuals with mental health issues, as Neely was known to have mental health problems. Some have called for more training for law enforcement in dealing with individuals with mental health issues, and for better resources and support for the homeless population in New York City.
The decision to continue with Penny’s case marks an important step in the pursuit of justice for Jordan Neely’s death. As the case progresses, both the Neely family and Penny’s attorneys remain confident in their respective positions and continue to seek a fair and just outcome. The case will return to court in March, where a jury will ultimately determine the fate of Daniel Penny.