Marine veteran Daniel Penny, who is accused of killing homeless man Jordan Neely on an NYC subway, has revealed why he decided to step in and subdue the erratic man.

Jordan Neely (left) and Daniel Penny (right)

On May 1, 24-year-old Penny put homeless man Neely in a chokehold when he began behaving aggressively and verbally threatening passengers on the F train in Manhattan. Neely was screaming at passengers and reportedly saying that he was “ready to go back to jail” and wasn’t afraid to “take a bullet.”

Passengers grew uneasy, so Penny stepped in to subdue the mentally unstable man. He put Neely in a chokehold to restrain him and pinned him to the ground, releasing him once he stopped fighting back.

However, Neely lost consciousness and was not able to be revived. He was later pronounced dead, prompting protests to break out around the city by those who think Neely did not pose a real threat to anyone in the subway car. Those people, however, were not actually there and don’t know how threatened the passengers felt by Neely, who suffered from a mental illness and had a long history of violent attacks on the subway.

On May 12, Penny surrendered himself to the NYPD to face a second-degree manslaughter charge and, if found guilty, faces up to 15 years in prison.

Penny has since been released on $100,000 bail.


In an interview with Fox News, Penny explained that he felt a “moral obligation” to step in and control the situation that day on the subway.

Someone that had a major influence on how he lives his life was human rights activist Elie Wiesel, who spoke to his high school class years ago about the Holocaust.

“One of the overall messages that he talked about was that good people did nothing,” Penny said. “It’s a lesson that I carry with me to this day.”

That lesson guided Penny on the day he boarded the same subway car as Neely and stepped in to defend his fellow passengers.

“If [Neely] had carried out his threats, he would have killed somebody,” Penny told Fox News.

“Between stops, you’re trapped on the train, and there’s nowhere to go,” Penny said. “You can try to move away, but you can only do so much on a packed car. I was scared. I looked around, and I saw older women and children, and they were terrified.”

Former Marine Daniel Penny, 24

One witness, who remained anonymous but described herself as a “woman of color,” defended Penny’s actions, saying, “It was self-defense, and I believe in my heart that he saved a lot of people that day.”

Penny also acknowledged the loss felt by Neely’s family, telling Fox, “They’ve been in my prayers. I feel for their loss. Like Jordan, they’re also victims of a failed system.”

The former Marine has not been able to board a train since the incident, finding it too hard to revisit a setting associated with the traumatic event.

He also revealed how much it hurts him to be labeled a “racist” and a “murderer” by so many protesters and politicians.

“The majority of the people on that train that I was protecting were minorities, so it definitely hurts a lot to be called that,” said Penny. “It has obviously taken a toll.”

“Everybody who’s ever met me can tell you, I love all people, I love all cultures,” Penny told the New York Post. “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.”

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

Speaking about his arrest and perp walk, Penny said, “It was a little bit humiliating I would say but, I mean, it is what it is. That’s how things are playing out.”

Daniel Penny turning himself in to the NYPD

So far, a GiveSendGo campaign that was set up to help Penny with his legal fees has raised almost $3 million. This is the site’s second-most successful campaign in its history.

Penny expressed his deep appreciation for the generosity of his supporters, saying, “I was working two jobs as a student. My family doesn’t come from money, so I’m incredibly thankful for this fund and all the people who have supported me.”

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