Daniel Penny, the man accused of choking Jordan Neely to death on the New York City subway, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, The New York Times reports.

Penny, a former Marine, appeared in a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday, June 28, to enter his plea. A grand jury indicted him on the charges earlier this month, paving the way for prosecutors to pursue a felony case.

A trial date has not been set yet. If convicted of the manslaughter charge, Penny could face up to 15 years in prison.

Penny is accused of killing Neely, who was unhoused and seemingly having a mental health crisis, on May 1. Neely was reportedly yelling and acting erratically on a subway car when Penny put him in a fatal chokehold. The medical examiner ultimately determined that Neely died of compression to his neck caused by the chokehold, ruling his death a homicide. 

In a statement, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said, “Daniel Penny stands indicted for manslaughter after allegedly putting Jordan Neely in a deadly chokehold for several minutes until and after he stopped moving. I hope Mr. Neely’s loved ones are on the path towards healing as they continue to mourn this tragic loss.”

Following the hearing, Penny’s lawyers addressed reporters, with Thomas Kenniff saying, “All the evidence we’ve seen is that our client acted reasonably under the circumstances.” (Kenniff notably ran against Bragg in the 2021 Manhattan DA election.)

In a statement shared with Rolling Stone, lawyers for Neely’s family, Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards, said: “Daniel Penny spent weeks using media outlets and $3 million dollars to dress up his crime. It didn’t work, he has been exposed. The grand jury saw through the excuses and issued an indictment. We also expect the people who decide his criminal trial to hold him fully accountable. From now on, we shouldn’t be shocked or surprised when justice happens. This is how it’s supposed to be not only for Jordan but for anyone who is a victim of a crime.”

Amidst the outrage sparked by Neely’s death — which was captured on video — it took officials several days to identify Penny and 11 for prosecutors to formally charge him. (Police initially told reporters they took Penny into custody, questioned him, and released him.) Penny has claimed that Neely threw his jacket at other passengers and made several distinct threats to people on the train. There’s no indication yet that Neely actually physically confronted anyone before Penny put him in a chokehold.


After Penny retained his attorneys in May (but before any charges were brought), they issued a statement accusing Neely of having a “documented history of violent and erratic behavior” and saying he was “aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and the other passengers” on the subway. Lawyers for Neely’s family called the statement neither “an apology nor an expression of regret” but a “character assassination.”

This story was updated at 4:21 p.m. ET with a statement from lawyers for Jordan Neely’s family.