Daniel Penny pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the death of Jordan Neely, whom Penny placed in a chokehold on the New York City subway last month.
Penny, 24, pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the May 1 death of Neely, who was reportedly dealing with mental illness and homelessness. Penny put Neely, 30, in the fatal chokehold with the help of two other passengers for more than three minutes after Neely had been reportedly shouting at passengers and behaving erratically.
Neely lost consciousness in the chokehold and was later pronounced dead at the hospital after medical responders could not resuscitate him.
Penny, who served four years in the Marines before being discharged in 2021, was initially questioned by detectives but was released without charges at the time.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed about 10 days after Neely’s death that the former Marine would be charged with second-degree manslaughter. He was released on a $100,000 bond after not entering a plea.
A grand jury voted to indict Penny on updated charges earlier this month. His arraignment in New York lasted only minutes before he entered his not guilty plea.
The fatal incident was caught on video, which prompted outrage because it showed Penny continuing to keep Neely in the chokehold after he had passed out. The incident also sparked larger conversations about race and how people with mental illnesses should be treated.
Lawyers for Penny, who is white, have maintained that Neely, who was Black, was “aggressively threatening” him and other passengers, so the former Marine took action to defend himself and others until authorities arrived.
Neely’s family has argued that Neely was instead asking for help.
The Associated Press contributed.