The death of a homeless man who was allegedly put into a chokehold by a Marine veteran after acting aggressively on the New York City subway has been ruled a homicide by the city’s medical examiner, according to The New York Times.
“As part of our rigorous ongoing investigation, we will review the Medical Examiner’s report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records,” a spokesman for District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
“This investigation is being handled by senior, experienced prosecutors and we will provide an update when there is additional public information to share,” the spokesman added.
Jordan Neely, 30, died when his “unhinged” behavior on a Subway train prompted an unnamed 24-year-old Marine veteran to place the homeless man into a chokehold. The young veteran allegedly held Neely for approximately 15 minutes until he stopped moving, according to a witness of the incident.
“None of us who were there thought he was in danger of dying,” witness and freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez said. “We thought he just passed out or ran out of air.”
By the time first responders arrived on the scene, Neely had lost consciousness and EMS personnel were unable to revive him. Though the Marine veteran was taken into custody, he was later released, pending the results of an investigation.
The death of #JordanNeely, who was placed in a chokehold while riding a NYC subway, was ruled a homicide, the city’s medical examiner confirmed on Wednesday evening.
— Chelsia Rose Marcius (@chelsiamarcius) May 3, 2023
Whether the Marine will be charged with a crime remains to be seen, but legal experts state it will come down to whether the restraint of Neely was justified. New York law allows for the use of physical force if a person has a reason to feel the need to defend themselves and/or others. A person can only use deadly force, however, if they believe the attacker is about to do the same. (RELATED: Group Of Four Teens Allegedly Punched, Cut Man On NY Subway)
“The police and prosecutors must determine what the intentions of the rider were when he grabbed Mr. Neely, if the rider felt physically threatened and if other passengers believed they had a reason to fear for their safety,” Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told The New York Times. (RELATED: NYC Man Barely Escapes Passing Train After Being Shoved Onto Subway Tracks)
Calling Neely’s death “tragic,” Mayor Eric Adams warned that there were still a lot of unknowns in the case. “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 stated, according to The New York Times.