Daniel Penny Makes First Public Comments Since Subway Chokehold Death: ‘Had Nothing To Do With Race’

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Former Marine Daniel Penny has broken his silence on the death of Jordan Neely.

Penny currently faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for restraining Neely — who was acting erratically on a New York City subway.

After the incident, protests erupted on the streets. Activists (and Neely’s family attorney) claim his killing was rooted in racism.

Daniel Penny leaves the Criminal Court of Manhattan after his arraignment. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

But Penny denies that allegation.

“This had nothing to do with race,” Penny told The New York Post. “I judge a person based on their character. I’m not a white supremacist.”

Many have come to Penny’s defense — calling him a Good Samaritan and a hero. Others, though, have attacked his character and called him a reckless vigilante. Even a “murderer.”

But Penny says he’s just a “normal guy.”

People take part in a protest over chokehold death of Jordan Neely. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images)

“I mean, it’s a little bit comical,” he said. “Everybody who’s ever met me can tell you I love all people. I love all cultures. You can tell by my past and all my travels and adventures around the world. I was actually planning a road trip through Africa before this happened.”

The confrontation occurred May 1 when Neely began yelling at other Subway passengers and throwing trash.

“I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison. I’m ready to die,” Neely reportedly said.

“I’ll hurt anyone on this train,” another witness heard him say.

Given the pending court case, Penny cannot discuss the events in detail. But the 24-year-old said it was unlike “anything I’d experienced before.”

Daniel Penny restrains Jordan Neely on Subway

“I can tell you that the threats, the menacing, the terror that Jordan Neely introduced to that train has already been well documented,” Penny’s attorney Thomas Kenniff said. “I don’t think it’s going to even be controverted at the end of the day. There are numerous witnesses from all different walks of life who have absolutely no motive to do anything other than to recount what actually happened. They are uniform in their recollection of events.”

Penny’s attorneys have said he didn’t intend to kill Neely when he choked him. According to his defense, he was trying to defend himself and fellow passengers from a threatening homeless man, who had a long history of mental illness and numerous prior arrests.

“I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life,” Penny said. “It’s tragic what happened to him. Hopefully, we can change the system that’s so desperately failed us.”

A person holds a ‘Freedom Daniel Penny’ sign outside the Manhattan Criminal Court after Daniel Penny’s arraignment. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Penny graduated from West Islip High School in New York. He attended Suffolk Community College before enlisting in the Marines.

Penny was deployed twice with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

“Growing up in the wake of 9/11 and the terrorist attacks in a community full of firemen, first responders, police officers, it was like, I needed to serve my community in some way,” Penny said.

Nobody wanted the events of May 1 to unfold like they did.

But when asked if he thought he had anything to be ashamed of, Penny said no.

“You know, I live an authentic and genuine life,” he said. “I always do what I think is right.”

Penny was released May 12 on $100,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for July 17.

Written by Amber Harding

Amber is a Midwestern transplant living in Murfreesboro, TN. She spends most of her time taking pictures of her dog, explaining why real-life situations are exactly like "this one time on South Park," and being disappointed by the Tennessee Volunteers.


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