NYC Subway Chokehold Death Ruled a Homicide

Subway rider placed 30-year-old Jordan Heely in deadly hold
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2023 3:24 PM CDT
Updated May 3, 2023 7:05 PM CDT
Man Dies After Subway Rider Puts Him in Chokehold
New York police officers respond to the scene where a fight was reported on a subway train, Monday, May 1, 2023, in New York.   (Paul Martinka via AP)
UPDATE May 3, 2023 7:05 PM CDT

The death of a man restrained by another passenger on the New York City subway was ruled a homicide Wednesday amid rising outrage. The medical examiner's office said 30-year-old Jordan Neely died from "compression of neck (chokehold)" and the manner of death was homicide, CBS reports. Witnesses said the Michael Jackson impersonator, who had a history of mental illness, had been acting erratically and yelling at people Monday before a man identified as a 24-year-old Marine veteran placed him in a chokehold until he stopped moving. The man was questioned by police and released without charge. Dozens of protesters gathered Wednesday in the Broadway-Lafayette station where Neely died, the New York Daily News reports.

May 3, 2023 3:24 PM CDT

A 30-year-old homeless man with a history of mental illness died Monday after he was placed in a chokehold by a fellow subway rider in New York City. The New York Daily News reports that Jordan Neely was restrained by a 24-year-old Marine on an F train in Manhattan after he started yelling at riders. "He started screaming in an aggressive manner," witness Juan Alberto Vazquez tells the New York Post. "He said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail. He started screaming all these things, took off his jacket, a black jacket that he had, and threw it on the ground."

Vazquez, a freelance journalist, captured disturbing video of the Marine and another man holding Neely down until he stops moving. First responders were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at Lenox Hill Hospital in Greenwich Village. The man who put Neely in the chokehold was questioned and released, the New York Times reports. Police say the investigation is ongoing. Vasquez tells the Times that Neely's behavior was alarming but he didn't attack anybody. "I am confused now because I’m not sure how to think about what the young man did," he says. "He was trying to help." ABC7 reports that Neely, a Michael Jackson impersonator who performed in Times Square and on subways, had a record of 44 arrests and was a suspect in a 2021 assault.

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Dave Giffen, the executive director at Coalition for the Homeless, said it was shocking that "someone who took the life of a distressed, mentally-ill human being on a subway could be set free without facing any consequences, the AP reports. Some city officials also spoke out. "NYC is not Gotham,” city Comptroller Brad Lander tweeted. “We must not become a city where a mentally ill human being can be choked to death by a vigilante without consequence. Or where the killer is justified & cheered.” A police source tell the Daily News that police and prosecutors are waiting for autopsy results before making a decision on criminal charges. (More New York City stories.)

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