‘The system failed him’: Relatives speak out after Jordan Neely subway chokehold killing
Relatives of Jordan Neely have spoken out following the killing of the 30-year-old homeless man in an incident on the New York subway.
His death on Monday has been ruled a homicide after he was filmed placed in a chokehold by a subway passenger.
The incident allegedly occurred after Neely had been acting in an erratic manner, frustrated about his personal situation.
The homicide ruling doesn’t decide intent or culpability.
The video, filmed by journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez, shows a man identified as Jordan Neely, 30, ranting aggressively and throwing his jacket on the ground when the commuter intervenes.
The passenger, whose name has not been released by police, pinned Neely to the ground in a chokehold for approximately 15 minutes, leaving him unconscious, according to the New York Post.
The incident occurred on Monday afternoon on the northbound Manhattan subway, according to police and Mr Vazquez.
In the video, the subway rider can be seen lying on the floor of the train with his arm wrapped around Neely’s neck.
Another bystander could be seen helping hold Neely down on the floor of the subway train.
The passenger was taken into custody for questioning but he was later released on his own recognizance without charges.
Neely had more than 40 prior arrests and an active warrant for his arrest, stemming from a charge of felony assault, police told CBS News.
The 30-year-old used to busk in the subway impersonating Michael Jackson, according to the Daily News, which also reported that he had a history of mental health problems.
His father, Andrew Zachary, told the paper that Neely’s mother was also killed, adding that she was murdered by her boyfriend.
Christie Neely was found dead stuffed in a suitcase on the side of a Bronx highway in 2007. Her son was 18 years old at the time. He testified at the murder trial of her boyfriend Shawn Southerland, saying that they fought every day before her death.
The boyfriend represented himself at the trial. He was convicted in 2012 of strangling her and was sentenced to three decades behind bars, nj.com reported.
Mr Zachary said he hadn’t seen his son for four years, but told the Daily News that he was “great” at impersonating the pop star.
“I sat him in front of the TV and showed him the Jackson 5,” Mr Zachary said. “He took on the Michael Jackson thing and he really formed it very well.”
A neighbour of the father told the paper that “I felt like something was wrong with” Neely. “Just his aura, everything. Sometimes he was asleep in the hallway”.
“He wasn’t violent. He was more a don’t-look-at-me-type of person. Anxiety,” the neighbour added. “I felt like that’s why he did the Michael Jackson thing — he had better confidence. It just became like that’s all he wanted to do. Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson.”
“Jordan was a good man,” Mr Zachary said, according to the Daily News. “He was a good person. He grew up good. He always had a [temper], but he never used to hurt anyone. He wasn’t bad. He was beautiful.”
Speaking about his son performing as Michael Jackson, he said, “He looked just like him. He used to perform on the block. One day, people were loving him”.
The father said his son was deeply affected by the death of his mother in 2007.
“He didn’t care anymore after that,” he told the Daily News. “Once his mother died ... They were very close. He loved her so much that he just lost it. After we buried her, he just wasn’t the same anymore.”
Neely’s aunt, Carolyn Neely, told The New York Post: “My sister Christie was murdered in 2007 and after that, he has never been the same.
“It had a big impact on him. He developed depression and it grew and became more serious. He was schizophrenic, PTSD. Doctors knew his condition and he needed to be treated for that.
“The whole system just failed him. He fell through the cracks of the system.”
A neighbour of Mr Zachary told the Daily News that Neely danced as a way to deal with his mental health difficulties.
“He used to get tough,” they said. “He knew how to move. A moonwalk. He was always pleased doing it. He would do it while he was getting ready to go to work. He used to be fantastic.”
Minister Ray Tarvin also knew Neely. He told The Guardian: “He was a nice person, not aggressive or violent. Everyone who knew him knows that.
“He’d accept anything you had – many of the homeless down here are sober. They’re needing food or shelter or clothing, not strung out and shooting up dope.”