Witness Explains What Came Moments Before Man Was Thrown in a Fatal Chokehold on NYC Subway
A homeless man who died Monday after being placed in a chokehold on a subway had reportedly been making threats against those around him.
Jordan Neely, 30, died of a “compression of neck (chokehold)” in an incident the New York City medical examiner has ruled a homicide, according to the New York Post.
Neely had “started acting very aggressively toward other riders, threatening to harm them,” WNBC-TV reported.
Riders tackled a man who had been shouting at people aboard a New York City subway train and put him in a chokehold, according to police officials and video of the encounter. The city’s medical examiner said Jordan Neely died from compression of the neck. https://t.co/uJUNddTfcZ
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 4, 2023
Witness Juan Alberto Vazquez, who recorded part of the incident, told WNBC he was frightened by Neely’s behavior.
“The man got on the subway car and began to say a somewhat aggressive speech, saying he was hungry, he was thirsty, that he didn’t care about anything, he didn’t care about going to jail, he didn’t care that he gets a big life sentence,” Vazquez said.
He said Neely even added that “It doesn’t even matter if I died.'”
An unidentified 24-year-old Marine approached Neely from behind and placed him in a chokehold for about 15 minutes, Vasquez said.
Videos of the incident show other passengers helping to restrain Neely’s arms and legs.
When responders arrived on the scene, Neely had passed out and they were unable to revive him, according to the Post.
The Marine was questioned by police, but was not detained.
The New York Times reported that District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is also investigating, but as of Thursday morning, no charges had been filed in the death.
That fact has sparked some outrage among some New Yorkers, particularly politicians and homeless advocates.
“There was no empathy on that train car,” homeless advocate Karim Walker told the Times. Neely “did not need to nor did he deserve to die in the manner that he did. That’s what really scares me and that’s what really breaks my heart.”
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was quick to chime in to declare Neely had been “murdered,” according to the Times.
Mayor Eric Adams’ response was more measured. He called the death “tragic,” and added, “there’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here.
“However, we do know that there were serious mental health issues in play here, which is why our administration has made record investments in providing care to those who need it and getting people off the streets and the subways, and out of dangerous situations,” he added, the Times reported.
Vasquez told WNBC it was evident the other subway riders were wary.
“If there was fear, the people who…were there where he separated everything, moved from their place. I stayed sitting in my place because it was a little further away, but obviously in those moments, well, one feels fear. One thinks he may be armed,” Vazquez said.
The Post quoted police as saying Neely had “numerous” prior arrests on drug charges, disorderly conduct, and fare beating, or illegally avoiding payment of public transportation fees.
He had a history of homelessness and mental illness and he was wanted in connection with a 2021 assault on a 67-year-old woman.
Riding the New York subway system has become increasingly dangerous. In January 2022, the New York Police Department reported 461 felony assaults and eight homicides the previous year, according to the New York Post.
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