Daniel Penny, charged in Jordan Neely death, breaks silence: ‘I am not a white supremacist’
The Post reported on Saturday that ex-Marine Daniel Penny said the chokehold death of Jordan Neely was not a race issue, but rather a result of a “broken system” which had “so desperately failed us”.
Penny’s first public remarks since the May 1 F-train tragedy captured on video were both soft-spoken, and stoic. He faces criminal charges which could send him to jail for up to fifteen years.
Penny, a 24-year-old man, said that the incident had nothing to do racial issues. He was sitting in Argyle park, Babylon, near Long Island beaches, where he grew surfing.
Penny, dressed in black slacks and a blue zip up jacket, did not flinch at the mention of Neely, an unemployed black man aged 30 with mental illness.
“I judge people based on character. I am not a racist.
“It’s funny, I mean. Everyone who has ever met me will tell you that I love people of all races and cultures. My past, my travels, and my adventures around the globe will tell you. “I was planning to take a roadtrip through Africa when this happened.”
Penny clarified that he is not a vigilante. “I’m a normal guy.”
Neely, who allegedly yelled at other passengers and threw trash on the train, sparked a confrontation. Penny could not elaborate on the events because his case was still pending, but said it was unlike “anything” he had experienced before.
Penny said, “This time it was very different.”
He repeated, “This time it was different.”
Thomas Kenniff, Penny’s lawyer at Manhattan’s Raiser & Kenniff law firm, said that other F train passengers would back his client’s story.
“I can assure you that Jordan Neely’s menacing and terror on that train have been well documented. It’s not going to be in dispute. Numerous witnesses, from different backgrounds, have no other motive than to tell the truth. “They are all uniform in the way they remember events.”
Penny told police he was returning to Manhattan after school, and was on his way to the gym he frequents at West 23rd Street. He refused to reveal the name of the university where he studies architecture. He now takes classes remotely.
Penny replied, “I was heading to my gym.” There’s a swimming pool. I love to swim. I lived in East Village. I use the subway several times a daily. “I think New York’s transit system is the most efficient in the world, and I have been to many countries.”
According to witnesses and the video footage of the fatal incident, Penny grabbed Neely by the neck as two other men tried to restrain Neely further.
The city medical examiner ruled Neely’s death as a homicide. He noted that he died from “compression (chokehold) of the neck.”
Penny is out on bail after being charged with manslaughter in the second degree. Authorities have not yet decided whether to bring charges against the two other men. According to Penny’s lawyer, Steven M. Raiser, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg only has six months to obtain a grand jury’s indictment.
Penny’s family believes that Neely should be charged with murder.
Penny’s lawyers have stated that he did not intend to kill Neely by choking him. He was only trying to protect himself and other straphangers against a homeless man who threatened them and had a history of mental illness.
Penny was somber and carefully selected his words when asked what he’d say to Jordan Neely’s family at the funeral on Friday.
He said, “I am deeply saddened at the loss of his life.” It is tragic what happened. We can hopefully change a system that has so badly failed us.
Penny nodded when asked if she would do the same thing again in a similar circumstance.
Penny replied, “You know I live a genuine and authentic life.” “And I would, if there were a danger and threat in the present …”
Is he ashamed of anything he has done?
“I always do what I believe is right.”
The Post quoted Rev. Al Sharpton said at Neely Neely’s Harlem funeral on Friday: “We cannot live in a place where you can choke to death without provocation, weapon or threat, and then go home to sleep in your own bed, while my family must put me in a cemetery.”
Penny nodded, but said that he wasn’t “sure” who Sharpton was. “I don’t know celebrities very well.”
He also said that he doesn’t watch the news. He is aware of some negative media coverage and has said that he was surprised. However, he remains philosophical.
You must remain calm when faced with these challenges. Worrying about nothing is pointless. This is something I owe to my grandfather and father. “They are very very stoic.”
Penny says he has given up social media for years.
“I don’t follow anyone and I don’t use social media because, I don’t like the attention. I think that there are other ways to spend time.” “I don’t enjoy the spotlight.”
Penny has three sisters. He said that he is surrounded by his family and friends and that they are “hanging on” since the incident.
He said, “My mother is fine.” “My sisters understand. “They all support me.”
Penny described her childhood in West Islip as being relatively happy. He was the fourth child. He was a child when his parents separated.
His grandfathers are his role models, and one of them is an Italian immigrant. He said his two role models are his grandfathers, one of whom immigrated from Italy. He said that he had to move around in West Islip because his parents split up, but he spent most of his formative childhood in a home near the ocean his great-grandfather purchased in the 1960s.
Penny replied, “My grandmother was brought up there.” Penny said, “My father and his brother were also raised there.” Then me and my sister were able grow up there. I am very grateful. It’s a beautiful home right on the water. My family would not have allowed us to enjoy that lifestyle by the water.
Penny admitted that his parents’ divorce had been difficult, but there were some positives.
It brought my sisters and I closer together. We’re really close. I love my sister. Three of them. “I’d do anything to get them.”
Penny graduated from West Islip High School, where he excelled in lacrosse. He then attended Suffolk Community College before joining the Marines.
“Growing in a community of firefighters, first responders and police officers in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt like I had to do something for my community.