Charges expected over choking death on New York subway

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A former US Marine is expected to be charged with manslaughter after putting a homeless man in a chokehold on the New York City subway.

The ex-marine, identified as Daniel Penny, put 30-year-old Jordan Neely in a chokehold while they rode on the train in Manhattan on May 1.

Neely, reportedly a homeless man, died from a compression of the neck the medical examiner said.

"We can confirm that Daniel Penny will be arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the second degree. We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement on Thursday.

The incident sparked protests, with demonstrators calling for justice for Neely. Protest organisers called the act a "lynching" and an example of "white vigilantism" against people of colour.

In a statement, Penny expressed "condolences to those close to Mr. Neely." The statement alleged that Neely had aggressively threatened Penny and other passengers, and added that "Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death."

An attorney for Neely's family said in a statement on Monday that Penny's actions on the train and his words show that "he needs to be in prison."

24-year-old Penny, who was white, was questioned by police and released after the incident, media said.

New York Mayor Eric Adams, who critics say did not adequately condemn the killing and failed to speak with Neely's family, has called for improved mental health services.

"Jordan Neely did not deserve to die," he said. "His death is a tragedy that never should have happened."

A spate of attacks on train passengers last year, particularly Asian Americans, prompted Adams to increase police patrols and expand outreach to the mentally ill in the subway system, citing rising homelessness in the wake of the pandemic.

A video of the incident that has circulated on social media showed Penny applying a chokehold to a man identified as Neely on the floor of a subway train for more than three minutes. Two other men are seen restraining Neely's arms before he went limp.

The altercation occurred after he boarded the train and began yelling at passengers, saying he was hungry and ready to die, the New York Times reported, citing police.