A U.S. Marine veteran expressed no remorse and felt “entitled” to kill Jordan Neely on a New York City subway train, the homeless man’s family said Monday.
Lawyers for Daniel J. Penny, 24, on Friday had defended their client, saying Neely had been “aggressively threatening” their client and other riders aboard an F train in Manhattan last week.
Representatives for Neely’s family responded on Monday, saying Penny had no regard to their loved one’s life.
“Daniel Penny’s press release is not an apology nor an expression of regret,” said a statement from attorneys representing Neely’s family. “It is a character assassination, and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan‘s life,” said the attorneys, Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards.
Penny’s attorneys could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.
They had said on Friday that Neely had long suffered from mental illness and had a documented history of violent and erratic behavior.
But Neely’s family countered on Monday and said Penny could not have known of their loved one’s past struggles before applying a chokehold. By the time police reached the subway train where the confrontation unfolded, Neely was unconscious and died at the scene.
“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,” said the statement from Mills and Edwards.
“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,” the attorneys said.
Penny was questioned by police, released and has not been charged with any crimes.
Neely was on a list known to outreach workers as the “Top 50,” a register of New York City’s most at-risk homeless men and women due to the frequency of incidents and interactions with them.
He’d been taken to the hospital multiple times, both willingly and sometimes involuntarily, sources have confirmed to NBC News.
It’s still unclear whether the city lost track of Neely or if any more could have been done to better monitor him.
“People fall through the cracks. Sometimes they’re visible, sometimes you see them,” she said in Buffalo. “And we think about the young man, Jordan Neely, who was in New York City in the throes of a crisis who was tragically killed on the subway this week. His death is clear evidence that we need support. We need alternatives for these individuals so they’re not regulated to that kind of life. So those of us in government, it is a wake up call.”
Valeriya Antonshchuk, Matthew Johnson, Jonathan Dienst and Andrew Siff contributed.