Protesters gather on NYC subway demanding charges as chokehold death of homeless man is ruled a homicide
Protesters gathered on a New York City subway platform on Wednesday demanding justice for a homeless man as his death was ruled a homicide.
Jordan Neely, 30, died when a Marine veteran, 24, placed him in a chokehold on board an F Train in Manhattan on Monday afternoon.
The NYPD said that Neely, who appeared to be in the grips of a mental health episode at the time, was pacing and shouting on the train carriage when the violent incident unfolded.
Disturbing cellphone footage, circulating online, shows the veteran – who has not been publicly named – wrestling the 30-year-old to the floor before pinning him in a chokehold.
Neely, who used to be a popular Michael Jackson impersonator around Times Square, was held in the chokehold for almost three minutes as he grappled to break free. Two other passengers were seen helping to restrain him.
The 30-year-old lost consciousness and emergency services were called. He was rushed to hospital but he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead that day.
On Wednesday, the medical examiner officially ruled Neely’s cause of death compression of the neck and his manner of death a homicide.
But, despite the ruling, the 24-year-old veteran has not been arrested over his death – sparking outrage among New Yorkers who are calling for justice for Neely and slamming the treatment of the homeless population.
A large group of protesters gathered inside the Broadway-Lafayette subway station on Wednesday demanding charges be brought against the veteran.
They chanted “Jordan Neely, say his name!” and “F*** Eric Adams” as they were met by a heavy NYPD presence.
One demonstrator told CBS New York that they were “outraged” over both Neely’s death and the fact that the man who held him in a chokehold is still walking free.
“We’re just outraged as a community that there has been no arrest or formal of charges against the man who has yet to be identified who killed Jordan Neely,” they said.
Another person said: “A life was senselessly taken away. Someone who was homeless, struggling with mental health. Right now a lot of folks are infuriated because our government is not prioritising housing.”
New York lawmakers and officials have also weighed in on the matter, with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez describing Neely’s death as a “public murder”.
“Jordan Neely was murdered. But bc Jordan was houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself while many in power demonize the poor, the murderer gets protected w/ passive headlines + no charges. It’s disgusting,” she tweeted on Wednesday.
She also hit out at the response from New York City Mayor Eric Adams after he refused to be drawn on what had happened to Neely.
“Any loss of life is tragic,” Mr Adams said in a statement on Wednesday. “There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here, so I’m going to refrain from commenting further.”
He added: “However, we do know there were serious mental health issues in play here which is why our administration has made record investment in providing care to those who ended it and getting people off the streets and subways, and out of dangerous situations.”
AOC branded his response a “new low” saying “not being able to clearly condemn a public murder because the victim was of a social status some would deem ‘too low’ to care about”.
Her comments sparked pushback from Mr Adams who claimed it wasn’t “very responsible” to weigh in as he urged for patience as the investigation continues.
“I don’t think that’s very responsible at a time when we’re still investigating the situation. Let’s let the DA conduct his investigation with the law enforcement officials, to really interfere with that is not the right thing to do,” he told CNN.
“To interfere with that is not the right thing to do. I’m going be responsible and allow them to do their job to determine exactly what happened.”
New York City Comptroller Brad Lander also joined AOC in condemning Neely’s death and hit out at anyone who “justified and cheered” the actions of the “vigilante” veteran.
“NYC is not Gotham. We must not become a city where a mentally ill human being can be choked to death by a vigilante without consequence. Or where the killer is justified & cheered,” Mr Lander tweeted.
As of Thursday morning – almost three days on from Neely’s death – no charges have been brought and the investigation into his death is still ongoing.
The 24-year-old Marine veteran, whose name has been withheld by authorities, was initially taken in for questioning on Monday before he was released without charge.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday night that it was carrying out a “rigorous ongoing investigation” before deciding whether to bring any charges.
“This is a solemn and serious matter that ended in the tragic loss of Jordan Neely’s life,” the statement.
“As part of our rigorous ongoing investigation, we will review the Medical Examiner’s report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records.”
The statement added: “This investigation is being handled by senior, experienced prosecutors and we will provide an update when there is additional public information to share. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office encourages anyone who witnessed or has information about this incident to call 212-335-9040.”