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Grand jury votes to indict Marine veteran who held homeless man in fatal chokehold on NYC subway

A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Daniel Penny, seen here, on May 12, the retired US Marine who held Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on the New York City subway, according to a source with knowledge of the case. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Reuters)

(CNN) — A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran who held Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on the New York City subway, according to a source with knowledge of the case. 

Penny, 24, was indicted on second-degree manslaughter charges. The Manhattan District Attorney is expected to formally announce the grand jury’s indictment, which is under seal, on Thursday.

Penny surrendered to police last month to face a second-degree manslaughter charge. He has since been out on a $100,000 bond. 

Penny held Neely, an unhoused Black man and street artist, in a chokehold on the subway train May 1 after Neely began shouting at passengers that he was hungry and thirsty and didn’t care whether he died. Penny forced 30-year-old Neely to the train floor and restrained him in a chokehold until he stopped breathing. A medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide. 

CNN has reached out to Penny’s attorneys.

In May, Penny told the New York Post he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life,” amid what has become a contentious homicide case that has highlighted the city’s handling of unhoused people.

Neely was on a New York City Department of Homeless Services list of the city’s homeless with acute needs – sometimes referred to internally as the “Top 50” list – because people on the list tend to disappear, a source told CNN.

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.

On Wednesday, the law firm representing Neely’s family said they believe the indictment is “the right result for the wrong he committed.”

“We believe in our criminal justice system and believe it worked today,” the statement from Mills & Edwards LLP said.

“Bottom line – at some point Mr. Penny should have let go before Jordan died,” the statement read. “There is no excuse for choking anyone for that long. Any reasonable person knows choking someone for that long will kill them.

“Daniel Penny did not have the right to be the judge, jury and executioner.”

Neely’s killing, part of which was captured on video that was posted online, sparked demonstrations calling for justice in his case as Manhattan prosecutors spent days deliberating how to proceed before apprehending and charging Penny.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the indictment was an important step in the legal process but much more needs to be done for people like Neely.

“No matter the charges or the outcome in this case, we have to reckon with and upend the systems that left Jordan angry and hopeless, and the structures that mean Daniel Penny has received more resources in the last month than Jordan did in his entire life, marked by trauma and cut tragically short,” Williams said.