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The death of Jordan Neely has elicited strong emotions from all sides. The homeless man was placed into a submission hold by an ex-U.S. Marine after allegedly aggressively threatening passengers on a New York subway. He was later pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital.
Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have used the situation as a partisan bludgeon in an attempt to stir up unrest, suggesting that Neely was “lynched.” Thankfully, to this point, their rhetoric hasn’t added up to much more than one silly protest. Meanwhile, on the other side, Republicans have largely taken the side of Daniel Penny, the former serviceman in question, asserting that he was trying to protect people on the train.
In the end, witness testimony will be key in determining whether the legal standard was met to justify the submission hold being used as a self-defense measure. A new video is providing further context to the situation, though.
(Warning: Viewer Discretion is Advised)
Why isn’t the media covering the fact that Daniel Penny was complemented by other passengers and also put Jordan Neely in the recovery position?
Seems like key details to leave out. pic.twitter.com/hA8qSNtrCu
— Mythinformed (@MythinformedMKE) May 7, 2023
A lot of the arguments from those calling this a murder have centered on the theory that Penny meant to kill Neely and that this was an act of racist violence. But the above video shows several things that complicate that narrative greatly.
First, you can see that Penny released the submission hold, and Neely was then placed into what is called the “recovery position.” That is done to fully open up the airway, typically allowing a regaining of consciousness. That would heavily suggest that there was no intent by Penny to harm Neely.
Secondly, you can see Neely’s chest still moving (and his leg even appearing to move) in the video at multiple points, which again suggests that Penny let him go with the expectation that he was subdued, not mortally wounded. Was Neely still breathing when the paramedics got there?
Thirdly, you can hear passengers thanking Penny for engaging Neely. That suggests that the people on the train did feel that the latter posed a real violent threat. Whether their feelings were justified or not is another matter, but it again speaks to Penny’s state of mind and the information he was working with. What exactly did Neely say prior to the altercation? Did he aggressively approach any of the passengers? These are all details that witnesses will have to fill in.
Of course, none of the above means Penny won’t be charged with a crime. Self-defense laws vary from state to state; if the evidence doesn’t support the idea that Neely represented a clear and present threat to those around him, a grand jury might still vote to indict him.
With that said, while arguments over legal culpability will go on, including possibly involuntary manslaughter, what I think this latest video shows pretty definitively is that this was not a “lynching” or a targeted killing. Penny’s actions after releasing the submission hold do not appear to be those of a man who was intending to cause permanent harm.
The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of ThinkCivics.com
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