On Saturday, Daniel Penny, the former Marine charged with second degree manslaughter by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg over the death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely, spoke with the New York Post and said the incident "had nothing to do with race."
"I judge a person based on their character. I’m not a white supremacist," Penny said. "I mean, it’s, it’s a little bit comical. Everybody who’s ever met me can tell you, I love all people, I love all cultures. You can tell by my past and all my travels and adventures around the world. I was actually planning a road trip through Africa before this happened."
During the interview Penny said that he was a "normal guy" who was thrust into the situation with Neely, and that the situation was unlike "anything I’d experienced before. This was different, this time was much different."
Video footage emerged of the May 1 incident that showed Neely, who had been arrested more than 44 times including on charges of public lewdness and assaulting a senior citizen, being held in a submission hold by 24-year-old Penny. Neely, who also had a warrant out for his arrest at the time of the fatal incident had reportedly been behaving in a hostile and erratic manner on the subway and acting aggressively towards other passengers before being subdued.
Penny's lawyer, Thomas Kenniff, said, "I can tell you that the threats, the menacing, the terror that Jordan Neely introduced to that train has already been well documented. I don’t think it’s going to even be controverted. There are numerous witnesses from all different walks of life who have absolutely no motive to do anything other than to recount what actually happened. They are uniform in their recollection of events."
Neely said the incident on the F train happened as he was leaving school and headed for the gym.
"There’s a pool there," Penny said. "I like to swim. I was living in the East Village. I take the subway multiple times a day. I think the New York transit system is the best in the world and I’ve been all over the world."
Jordan Neely's family have said that Penny should be charged with murder. When asked if Penny had any words for Neely's family, Penny said, "I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life. It’s tragic what happened to him. Hopefully, we can change the system that’s so desperately failed us."
During the incident video shows two other subway passengers assisting in restraining Neely.
Penny said that " I always do what I think is right.”
Penny, who is not on social media and said he does not watch the news, said he was "not sure" who Reverend Al Sharpton was, after the Post asked Penny about Sharpton's comments at Neely's funeral. Sharpton said, "we can’t live in a city where you can choke me to death with no provocation, no weapon, no threat and you go home and sleep in your bed while my family has to put me into a cemetery."
Penny said his family was supporting him and "hanging in there." About his mother and three sisters he said, "My mom is OK. My sisters understand. They all support me."
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