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Marine veteran who held Jordan Neely in fatal chokehold to be charged with second-degree manslaughter, DA’s office says

<i>Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service/Getty Images</i><br/>Jordan Neely was a New York street artist known for his Michael Jackson impersonations.
Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service/Getty Images
Jordan Neely was a New York street artist known for his Michael Jackson impersonations.

By John Miller and Kara Scannell, CNN

Daniel Penny, the US Marine veteran who held Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold aboard a New York subway train earlier this month, will be arrested on a charge of second-degree manslaughter, a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

“We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow,” the spokesperson added.

Penny, 24, is expected to surrender to police on Friday morning, according to two sources familiar with the case.

Neely, a 30-year-old street artist, was restrained May 1 on a Manhattan subway by Penny after Neely began shouting he was hungry, thirsty and had little to live for. His death has ignited protests while refocusing attention on struggles with homelessness and mental illness across America.

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.

Penny’s attorneys said they are confident he will be “fully absolved of any wrongdoing.”

“When Mr. Penny, a decorated Marine veteran, stepped in to protect himself and his fellow New Yorkers, his well-being was not assured,” the law firm of Raiser and Kenniff, PC, said in a statement. “He risked his own life and safety, for the good of his fellow passengers. The unfortunate result was the unintended and unforeseen death of Mr. Neely.”

CNN reached out Thursday to attorneys representing Neely’s family for comment on the latest developments.

Neely’s family has criticized Penny’s “indifference” and called for his incarceration. “He knew nothing about Jordan’s history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan’s neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing,” the family’s attorneys have said.

Neely, who became known for his Michael Jackson impersonations, had experienced mental health issues since 2007, when he was 14 and his mother was murdered, attorneys for his family have said.

Neely had been traumatized after his mother’s brutal killing was followed by the discovery of her body in a suitcase, his friend Moses Harper told CNN.

Neely’s funeral is set for May 19 at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem. His family asked the Rev. Al Sharpton to deliver his eulogy.

Neely’s death “is a tragedy that never should have happened,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday as he called for mental health care reform in the nation’s largest city and beyond.

While his “severe mental illness … was not the cause” of Jordan Neely’s death, the incident highlights the need for better systems to support those struggling with such problems, Adams said in a news conference.

The Democratic mayor did not utter Penny’s name or mention the exact circumstances that led to the fatal chokehold.

Neely’s death was ruled a homicide, though the designation doesn’t mean there was intent or culpability, a spokesperson for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said earlier this week, noting at the time it was a matter for the criminal justice system to determine.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji and Steve Forrest contributed to this report.

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