Opinion

Alvin Bragg didn’t trust a grand jury to do his bidding in subway choke case

Daniel Penny, the Marine Corps veteran who fatally subdued a deranged, threatening vagrant on the subway last week, was arraigned Friday on manslaughter charges in Criminal Court.

Anyone who expected differently in DA Alvin Bragg’s Manhattan hasn’t been paying attention.

Penny had put Jordan Neely, a career criminal who was terrorizing the F Train May 1, into a chokehold; Neely subsequently died — and thus the charges.

In less bizarre times — that is, before America lost its bearings on matters of crime, criminals, and simple justice itself — the case wouldn’t be complicated: A vagrant was menacing subway passengers, a straphanger reacted, the vagrant died — and a grand jury could be trusted to do the right thing.

But those days are history.

While true justice demands context, that doesn’t seem to matter to Bragg — nor to those activists determined to define everything in racial terms.

Penny is white; Neely was black.

That’s all the activists needed.

Bragg, meanwhile, is an unapologetic advocate of the George Soros approach to prosecution.

That is, he announced early on that he intended to do as little of it as he could get away with; black New Yorkers are inequitably affected by vigorous law enforcement, so the less of it, the better.


Former U.S. Marine Daniel Penny.
Daniel Penny was arraigned on manslaughter charges after the death of Jordan Neely.
REUTERS

Penny was seen arriving at a NYC Police precinct to turn himself in.
Penny was seen arriving at an NYC Police precinct to turn himself in.
REUTERS

And less of it the city got — with convictions tanking and reduced charges skyrocketing in the months after Bragg took office.

Never mind that black New Yorkers disproportionately commit violent crimes — or that they also are disproportionately its victims.

Or that the Bragg-Soros approach pretty much leaves the law-abiding on their own to deal with it.


Perry had put Jordan Neely into a chokehold, who died soon after being in a chokehold.
Penny had put Jordan Neely into a chokehold, who died soon after being in a chokehold.
Juan Vazquez

Medicial officials were seen helping Neely after being choked to death on a subway.
Medical officials were seen helping Neely after being choked to death on a subway.
Paul Martinka for NY Post

But Bragg is quick as a wink to target New Yorkers who defend themselves against violence or try to.

Remember Jose Alba, the bodega clerk charged with murder for fatally stabbing an ex-con who was assaulting him in the grocery?

What we know about NYC subway choking victim Jordan Neely

Who was Neely?

Jordan Neely, 30, a homeless man, was strangled aboard a northbound F train just before 2:30 p.m. May 1, according to police.

He reportedly started acting erratically on the train and harassing other passengers before being restrained and ultimately choked by a straphanger, identified as Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old former Marine from Queens.

Penny, who was seen on video applying the chokehold, was taken into custody and later released. He was eventually charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Why is there fallout over Neely’s death?

The city medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide, noting he died due to “compression of neck (chokehold).”

Neely’s aunt told The Post that he became a “complete mess” following the brutal murder of his mother in 2007. She noted he was schizophrenic and suffered from PTSD and depression.

“The whole system just failed him. He fell through the cracks of the system,” Carolyn Neely said.

Who is Penny?

24-year-old former Marine Daniel Penny served as an infantry squad leader and an instructor in water survival while in the Marines Corps from 2017 to 2021, according to his online resume. Penny graduated from high school in West Islip, NY.

He surrendered to authorities 11 days after he placed Neely in a fatal chokehold on an F train.

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The blowback from that arrest caused Bragg & Co. quickly to dismiss the case — but his message was quite clear: When career criminals attack, bow your head and take it lest the hammer falls on you.

And now Bragg has placed Daniel Penny in the dock.


A picture of Jordan Neely.
Neely reportedly started acting erratically on the train and harassing other passengers before being restrained by Penny.
Provided by Carolyn Neely

Does the Marine vet belong there?

No one disputes that Neely was aggressively threatening straphangers. A witness said he yelled, “I would kill a motherf—er, I don’t care. I’ll take a bullet. I go to jail.” Uncountable numbers of New Yorkers have been in such circumstances — and surely they relate.

It doesn’t happen every day.


Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg speaking during a panel discussion.
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg speaking during a panel discussion.
Robert Miller

But it happens often enough, and Alvin Bragg doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to it.

So what happens when a district attorney turns his back on violent predation?

Jordan Neely happens — often enough so that reasonable people enter the subway system wondering when it will be their turn.

And wondering further whether Alvin Bragg will go after them if they dare to fight back.

Justice? Not at all.

bob@bobmcmanus.nyc

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