(NEW YORK) — Daniel Penny turned himself in to New York City police on Friday to face criminal charges in connection with the chokehold death of Jordan Neely aboard a subway train.
Penny, 24, was seen walking in to the New York City Police Department’s 5th Precinct in Chinatown shortly after 8 a.m. ET. He’s expected to appear in court Friday afternoon.
Penny, a former U.S. Marine, did not address the media outside, but his lawyer, Tom Kenniff, told reporters that he “turned himself in here voluntarily and with the sort of dignity and integrity that is characteristic of his dignity of service to this grateful nation.”
Penny’s surrender came one day after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office confirmed that he would be arrested on a charge of second-degree manslaughter.
Neely family attorney Lennon Edwards is advocating for second-degree murder charges, saying Penny should have known Neely could die after seeing him struggle during the chokehold.
Penny “acted with indifference,” Neely family attorney Donte Mills said at a news conference hours after Penny turned himself in. “And we can’t let that stand.”
“For everybody saying, ‘I’ve been on the train and I’ve been afraid before, and I can’t tell you what I would’ve done in that situation.’ I’m gonna tell you — ask how you can help,” Mills told reporters. “Please, don’t attack. Don’t choke, don’t kill, don’t take someone’s life.”
“We don’t want anybody afraid on the subway,” Mills said. “But we want people to look at those that may be there in that situation and say, ‘Why?’ And, ‘How can I help them or make a difference?"”
Neely died following a chokehold on May 1. Video showed Penny putting Neely in a chokehold following outbursts from Neely on an F train.
Attorneys for Penny said in a statement Thursday night that they are confident that “once all the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic incident are brought to bear, Mr. Penny will be fully absolved of any wrongdoing.”
“When Mr. Penny, a decorated Marine veteran, stepped in to protect himself and his fellow New Yorkers, his well-being was not assured. He risked his own life and safety, for the good of his fellow passengers,” said the statement from the law firm of Raiser and Kenniff. “The unfortunate result was the unintended and unforeseen death of Mr. Neely.”
Neely was homeless at the time of his death. Some witnesses reportedly told police that Neely was yelling and harassing passengers on the train, authorities said.
Police sources told ABC News that Penny was not specifically being threatened by Neely when he intervened and that Neely had not become violent and had not been threatening anyone in particular.
In an earlier statement, Penny’s attorneys offered “condolences to those close to Mr. Neely” and claimed “Mr. Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel,” and that the Marine veteran and others “acted to protect themselves.”
“Mr. Neely had a documented history of violent and erratic behavior, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness,” said the statement from the law firm of Raiser and Kenniff. “When Mr. Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and the other passengers, Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves, until help arrived. Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.”
In footage of the incident, Penny can be seen holding Neely in a chokehold for nearly 3 minutes, as another man held down Neely’s body.
The Neely family attorneys criticized Penny’s response.
“The truth is, he knew nothing about Jordan’s history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan’s neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing,” the Neely family attorneys said in a statement.
“Daniel Penny’s press release is not an apology nor an expression of regret. It is a character assassination, and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan’s life,” the statement from attorneys Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards continued.
The Rev. Al Sharpton in a statement Friday called the charges against Penny “just step one in justice.”
“Let’s not forget that there were three people restraining him, and it is vital that the two others are also held accountable for their actions,” Sharpton said. “The justice system needs to send a clear, loud message that vigilantism has never been acceptable.”
Neely had a documented mental health history, according to police sources. Neely had been previously arrested for several incidents on the subway, though it’s unclear how many, if any, led to convictions.
The Manhattan DA’s office spent the weekend and much of this week interviewing and going over the accounts of witnesses who were on the train, as well as reviewing multiple videos of the incident. Prosecutors also consulted with the medical examiner’s office and detectives, and reviewed statements Penny made to detectives on the night of the incident.
The district attorney’s office decided to move forward with charges without first going to a grand jury.
A grand jury will still hear evidence in the case, which will occur in the week following his arraignment.
The maximum penalty for second-degree manslaughter is 15 years.
ABC News’ Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.
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