White House calls for ‘thorough investigation’ into Jordan Neely’s death

The homeless street performer was placed in a lethal chokehold on a Manhattan subway train. Prosecutors and police are investigating

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 09 May 2023 19:16 BST
Family of Jordan Neely Demand Justice and Prison Time

The death of Jordan Neely demands a thorough investigation, according to a statement from President Joe Biden’s administration, speaking publicly for the first time on the killing of the 30-year-old homeless New Yorker who was placed in a fatal chokehold on a Manhattan subway train last week.

In widely shared video footage, a man identified as 24-year-old Daniel Penny is seen restraining Neely on the floor of an F train while his arm is wrapped around Neely’s neck for several minutes.

The New York medical examiner’s office declared Neely’s death a homicide due to the compression against his neck. No charges have been filed, and the New York City Police Department and Manhattan district attorney’s office are investigating.

“Jordan Neely’s killing was tragic and deeply disturbing,” White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said in a statement shared withThe Independent on 9 May.

“Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. We firmly believe that the events surrounding his death demand a thorough investigation,” the statement added.

The White House statement is the first to address Neely’s death on 1 May.

When he walked into the F train on 1 May, Neely was complaining of hunger and thirst, according to journalist Juan Alberto Vasquez, who watched the incident and filmed Mr Penny pinning Neely to the ground in a chokehold for several minutes.

Mr Vasquez reported that Neely was yelling that he was tired, didn’t care whether he went to prison, and was ready to die, then threw a jacket to the ground. He began filming after Mr Penny grabbed Neely from behind and brought him to the floor of the traincar.

Neely’s death has sparked debates, protests and vigils across New York and on the city’s subway platforms, as demonstrators, advocacy organisations, and city, state and federal officials point to the failure of a system meant to support people like Neely.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed in a statement to The Independent last week that “senior, experienced prosecutors” are investigating Neely’s death.

“This is a solemn and serious matter that ended in the tragic loss of Jordan Neely’s life,” press secretary Douglas Cohen said. “As part of our rigorous ongoing investigation, we will review the [medical examiner’s] report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records.”

Additional reporting by Andrew Feinberg in Washington DC

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