‘Character Assassination’: Jordan Neely’s Family Slams Statement From Man Who Killed Him
Lawyers for the family of Jordan Neely have responded to the first statement from Daniel Penny, the man who killed Neely on a New York City subway last week. The attorneys, Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards, called Penny’s statement neither “an apology nor an expression of regret” but a “character assassination.”
Last Monday, May 1, Neely who was unhoused and seemingly having a mental health crisis, was reportedly yelling and acting erratically on a subway car when Penny put him in a fatal chokehold. An independent journalist captured part of the incident on video and later said Neely had not assaulted anyone before Penny put him in a chokehold for approximately 15 minutes.
While the medical examiner has ruled Neely’s death a homicide, saying he died via compression to his neck caused by the chokehold, Penny, 24, has not been charged (as of last week, prosecutors were still weighing whether to bring a case against him). Penny has, however, enlisted criminal defense attorneys Steven Raiser and Thomas Kenniff, who released a statement on his behalf last Friday, May 5. In it, they accused Neely of having a “documented history of violent and erratic behavior” and said he was “aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and the other passengers” on the subway.
In their new statement, the Neely family lawyers fired back, calling Penny’s statement “a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan’s life.” It continues, “In the first paragraph he talks about how ‘good’ he is and the next paragraph he talks about how ‘bad’ Jordan was in an effort to convince us Jordan’s life was ‘worthless.’ The truth is, he knew nothing about Jordan’s history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan’s neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing.”
Mills and Edwards also called out the way Penny’s statement “suggests that the general public has shown ‘indifference’ for people like Jordan.” But, they say, “that term is more appropriately used to describe [Penny].”
They continue: “It is clear he is the one who acted with indifference, both at the time he killed Jordan and now in his first public message. He never attempted to help him at all. In short, his actions on the train, and now his words, show why he needs to be in prison.”
Penny’s lawyers did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
The statement ended with a few words for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has drawn some criticism for his response to Neely’s killing. Asking Adams to call the Neely family, the statement said, “The family wants you to know that Jordan matters. You seem to think others are more important than him. You cannot ‘assist’ someone with a chokehold.”