MANHATTAN, N.Y. (WPIX) – A man who was acting erratically on a New York City subway train died after another rider put him in a chokehold, according to a witness and police.
The incident happened on a northbound F train at the Broadway–Lafayette Street/Bleecker Street subway station in Manhattan on Monday around 2:30 p.m., NYPD officials said. A 30-year-old man, identified as Jordan Neely, boarded the subway train and started acting erratically, police explained.
“I don’t have food, I don’t have to drink, I’m fed up … I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison … I’m ready to die,” Neely allegedly said, according to journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez, who recorded video of the incident that was shared on Facebook.
Neely was showing signs of mental illness, according to Vazquez. A 24-year-old subway rider, who is also a Marine, according to authorities, then went up to Neely and put him in a chokehold, video of the incident showed.
Vazquez’s nearly four-minute video shows the 24-year-old subway rider holding Neely in a chokehold on the floor of the subway train. Two other men aided the rider at times in keeping Neely restrained. Other bystanders on the train stood around watching as Neely unsuccessfully tried to break free from the chokehold.
It was unclear why the group had moved to restrain him.
Around two minutes into the video, Neely appears to stop struggling. The 24-year-old man releases him from the chokehold about a minute later. The video then shows Neely unmoving on the floor of the train.
When officers responded to the scene, Neely was unconscious, police said. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
The 24-year-old man was taken into custody for questioning and was released without being charged, officials said. Police said the investigation into the incident was ongoing.
The New York City medical examiner announced Wednesday that it had determined Neely died from the chokehold and ruled his death a homicide.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is now investigating, saying in a statement:
“This is a solemn and serious matter that ended in the tragic loss of Jordan Neely’s life. As part of our rigorous ongoing investigation, we will review the Medical Examiner’s report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records. This investigation is being handled by senior, experienced prosecutors and we will provide an update when there is additional public information to share. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office encourages anyone who witnessed or has information about this incident to call 212-335-9040.”
Neely’s death prompted outrage after video of the incident spread on social media. Some New Yorkers recalled encountering him during the years he spent performing as a Michael Jackson impersonator, often inside the Times Square transit hub.
A protest was held Wednesday afternoon at the Broadway–Lafayette subway station where the incident occurred.
“NYC is not Gotham. We must not become a city where a mentally ill human being can be choked to death by a vigilante without consequence,” New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said on Twitter.
Advocates also called attention to the need for more mental health services in New York City.
“This horrific incident is yet another reminder of Governor Hochul’s and Mayor Adams’ complete failure to provide the critical mental health services desperately needed by so many people in our city,” Dave Giffen, executive director with Coalition for the Homeless, said in a statement. “What’s more, the fact that someone who took the life of a distressed, mentally-ill human being on a subway could be set free without facing any consequences is shocking, and evidences the City’s callous indifference to the lives of those who are homeless and psychiatrically unwell. This is an absolute travesty that must be investigated immediately.”
Andre Zachery, Neely’s father, told the New York Daily News that he had not seen his son in four years.
Zachery told the paper Neely’s mother also died violently. Christie Neely was strangled in New Jersey in 2007, according to news accounts at the time. Her body was found days later in a suitcase along a roadway. Neely, who was 14 when she died, testified against his mother’s boyfriend at his murder trial.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a statement Wednesday evening.
“Any loss of life is tragic. There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here, so I’m going to refrain from commenting further. However, we do know that there were serious mental health issues in play here, which is why our administration has made record investments in providing care to those who need it and getting people of the streets and the subways, and out of dangerous situations. And I need all elected officials and advocacy groups to join us in prioritizing getting people the care they need and not just allowing them to languish.”NYC Mayor Eric Adams
The Associated Press contributed to this report.