A U.S. Marine veteran accused of killing erratic New York City subway passenger Jordan Neely after placing him in a chokehold Monday will likely be arrested, experts told Fox News Digital.
After Neely, 30, began ranting on the F train in Lower Manhattan, the Marine vet dragged the mentally ill man to the ground and held him with his arm over his neck for 15 minutes, according to Juan Alberto Vazquez, who shot now-viral cellphone video of the incident.
“Even if you’re initially allowed to use force, it has to be proportional, and a 15-minute chokehold, that’s a pretty long time. At the point that the threat is immobilized, you’re no longer permitted to use force,” former Manhattan prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow told Fox News Digital.
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He said the vet, whose name is being withheld by Fox News Digital, will likely be charged with second-degree manslaughter or criminal negligent homicide, which don’t carry mandatory jail sentences.
“People calling this murder need to slow down,” Bederow said. “I don’t think anyone who is looking at this seriously thinks this guy had intent to kill a mentally disturbed man or acted with depraved indifference to human life.”
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Vazquez told the New York Post that Neely, who has schizophrenia, barged into the train at about 2:30 p.m., “screaming in an aggressive manner” that he had no food or water.
As Neely yelled at riders, they moved away, prompting the 24-year-old Marine vet to put him in a headlock as two other straphangers helped restrain the disturbed man.
The shocking subway death has spurred demonstrations decrying police and calling for the vet’s arrest. Several protesters clashed with officers in Manhattan, resulting in arrests Wednesday on charges ranging from graffiti to assault.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said his office is conducting an investigation.
The Marine veteran declined to comment when reached by phone.
“I’m not interested in answering any questions, thank you,” he told Fox News Digital.
Former prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, who left the DA’s office when Bragg took over, has tried some of the borough’s highest-profile cases, including securing a rape conviction against Harvey Weinstein and a guilty plea for assault from Jay-Z.
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The veteran assistant district attorney called the subway chokehold death a “difficult investigation” but cautioned against “politicizing” the tragedy.
“At what point do we view him as a good Samaritan versus someone who goes too far and takes the law into his own hands?” she said. “I feel for both parties, I really do. Of course, the man who died paid the ultimate price.”
Illuzzi-Orbon said if she were investigating the case, she’d look for witnesses who could describe Neely’s initial conduct and whether he’d threatened passengers.
She’d also like to know whether the veteran had trained in this particular chokehold or performed the move to excess in the past.
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Maybe the vet thought he was putting Neely in a sleeper hold, she speculated.
Based on the little that is known, the former prosecutor agreed with Bederow on the likely potential charges.
If the vet were charged with criminal negligent homicide, the lowest level felony, it would be under the theory that he failed to perceive the risks of his actions.
Second-degree manslaughter, a more serious class C felony, would indicate that a reasonable person perceived the risks but disregarded them.
Retired NYPD Lt. John Macari blamed the tragedy on ineffective political leadership and a sense of growing lawlessness in New York City.
Since the pandemic, the city’s subway system has doubled as an unofficial homeless shelter, with the severely mentally ill roaming the cars and platforms en masse.
Mayor Eric Adams has faced widespread criticism for his administration’s inability to rein in the problem.
“The kid who had the guy in the chokehold, he’s on the ground scared for his life. He’s not trained. He doesn’t know the consequence of what’s going to happen. Where are the police?” said Macari.
The former cop, whose podcast “The Finest Unfiltered” focuses on New York City politics and the NYPD, said a man lost his life and three men may face charges.
“They are all victims of a broken system,” he added.
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