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Daniel Penny ‘should be celebrated’ for actions leading up to fatal chokehold of Jordan Neely: lawyer

Daniel Penny, the Marine who placed Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold, “should be celebrated” for jumping into action “for the benefit of others” on the crowded Manhattan subway, his lawyer asserted in a new radio interview.

Thomas Kenniff made the remarks Friday night on WABC’s ‘Cats & Cosby’ show hours after Penny, 24, was arraigned on a charge of second-degree manslaughter.

“He didn’t enter the subway seeking to harm anyone. He didn’t attack anyone,” Kenniff said of Penny.

“He was really putting himself in harm’s way for the benefit of others. He shouldn’t be pilloried for that. He should be celebrated,” Kenniff told hosts John Catsimatidis and Rita Cosby.

Penny placed Neely into a deadly chokehold aboard an uptown F train on May 1 after the homeless man was observed “making threats and scaring passengers,” prosecutors said.

“The reality is that there is not a single living, breathing New Yorker — particularly anyone who rides the subways — who can’t relate to exactly the sort of situation that my client and the other passengers on the train were confronted with,” Kenniff said in Friday’s radio interview.

“In no way shape or form [did Penny] seek to demean the victim in this case,” he added.

Daniel Penny’s lawyers argued that the former Marine should be lauded for restraining Jordan Neely.

Kenniff told the hosts his team is conducting a “very active investigation” that he said will absolve Penny of the charges against him.

“My firm works with all retired NYPD detectives, some of the best the business,” Kenniff said.

“We’ve uncovered a lot, and I think there’ll be a lot more to come, quite frankly.”

Penny surrendered to police in Manhattan Friday morning and was arraigned soon after.

He was released after posting $100,000 bail.

Thomas Kenniff , one of Daniel Penny attorneys, enters Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday, May 12, 2023, in New York.
Thomas Kenniff argued that Penny was protecting other commuters from an aggressive Neely.

Neely’s family blasted Manhattan prosecutors for only charging Penny with manslaughter, arguing that the former Marine intentionally killed the homeless man.

The legal team pushed for a second-degree murder charge — Penny had undergone extensive physical training and knew he was pushing the chokehold maneuver to the fatal limit, they argued.

“We knew that justice would not be swift. We realized that justice was going to be a journey,” the lawyers said.

“Today we are not going to stop until we have full justice. We are going to pause to recognize that we have taken the first step, a step in the right direction.”

Shocking video captured Penny wrapping his arms around the neck of the homeless man — who struggled with mental health issues since his mother’s murder over a decade ago — while other commuters helped to restrain Neely’s flailing limbs.

The city medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide, noting he died due to “compression of neck (chokehold).”

Penny chocking Neely.
Penny was charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Jordan Neely, who was filmed on the subway in a chokehold that eventually led to his death. Pictured at age 26.
The city medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide, noting he died due to “compression of neck (chokehold).”
Provided by Carolyn Neely

In the wake of Neely’s death, debate ensued over whether the tragedy was justified.

According to witness accounts, Neely was acting erratically and was threatening other passengers before Penny stepped in.

Neely had a long history of mental illness and had several prior arrests, including one from 2021 when he socked an older woman in the head, severely injuring her and landing himself in jail for more than a year.

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