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Daniel Penny pleads not guilty after being indicted in NYC subway chokehold death

Daniel Penny, a Marine veteran charged in the death of a homeless Black man he put in a chokehold on the New York City subway, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide during a court appearance.

Penny, who is White, only spoke to say “not guilty” when asked for his plea at the hearing, which lasted less than five minutes. The 24-year-old was indicted by a grand jury this month in the May 1 death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely.

He is due back in court on October 25. Penny surrendered to police in May and has been out on a $100,000 bond. The bail conditions were not changed during Wednesday’s hearing.

Penny confronted Neely on a subway train after Neely began shouting at passengers that he was hungry and thirsty and didn’t care whether he died. Penny forced Neely to the train floor and put him in a chokehold until he stopped breathing. A medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide.

The incident, partially captured on video posted online, sparked demonstrations calling for justice in the case.

Neely was on a New York City Department of Homeless Services list of the city’s homeless with acute needs because people on the list tend to disappear, a source told CNN.

“All of the evidence that we’ve seen so far, all of the evidence that we expect to see, shows that Danny acted reasonably, under very difficult circumstances in a confined environment that none of us would want to find ourselves in,” Penny’s attorney, Thomas Kenniff, said after the hearing. He added he believes his client acted within the law, “however unfortunate the consequences.”

The “right and duty to defend one another” will also be on trial in the case, said Steven Raiser, another lawyer for Penny. Penny’s legal team plans to defend “every New Yorker’s right and duty to defend each other when faced with grave harm.”

Attorneys for Neely’s family championed the indictment: “When justice happens … don’t be shocked,” they said during a news conference after the hearing.

“Daniel Penny killed a man. He took a life,” attorney Donte Mills said outside of court.

Attorney Lennon Edwards continued, “Even a legal defense fund, even interviews that took place weeks before this happened, can’t make justice look the other way – so please keep watching.”

CNN previously reported a legal defense fund set up for Penny has garnered more than $2.9 million in donations.

In May, Penny told the New York Post he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life.”

Penny told the newspaper he would take action in a similar situation again, “if there was a threat and danger in the present.” Penny said he is not a White supremacist and race was not a factor.


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