Was It Lawful For Daniel Penny To Kill Jordan Neely?
Daniel Penny killed Jordan Neely with a chokehold. Some feel that this was not a crime, or that it was so heavily mitigated by the circumstances that we should not treat it as a crime. But it looks like the law applied to the facts is clear. Under New York law you’re not justified using force unless it’s to prevent the imminent unlawful use of force against you or someone else. “Imminent” is an important word here. Somebody who has pulled back their hand to punch you in the face is threatening imminent force. But, by contrast, “[t]he mere display or brandishing of a pistol may, perhaps, create an insufficiently imminent threat to life to be considered the “use” of deadly physical force.” People v. Magliato, 68 N.Y.2d 24, 30 (N.Y. 1986). In other words, “imminent” means right this second, not five minutes from now. Here’s the jury instruction:
If Penny is charged, the jury will be instructed that abusive language will not be enough to justify any physical response unless Neely made a physical threat. At least one article claims that Neely was throwing garbage at other passengers, which, if true, might justify the restraint. But it will be up to Penny to show that Neely was hurting others right at the moment of restraint, rather than that he was worried what Neely would do next.
Even if Penny was justified in restraining Neely, though, he couldn’t be justified choking the man unless Neely posed a deadly threat. “Deadly physical force” means physical force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury.” N.Y. Penal Law § 10.00. Chokeholds and even punches have been held to be deadly force in New York, and it would be hard to argue that choking can’t kill a person when it definitively did.
Nor can Penny argue that Neely’s struggle to get away from him justified the deadly force. Neely wasn’t posing an imminent risk of killing or seriously hurting anyone, and even if Penny subjectively believed that deadly force was warranted, a jury would still have to decide whether an objectively reasonable person would think the same. You can’t shoot a man for holding a milk carton just
because you’re deathly afraid of milk.
It certainly doesn’t help that Penny had a bunch of non-choking options available to him. With the help of two other passengers, there were dozens of ways to restrain a slight, untrained man without killing him.
There’s been a lot of talk about Penny’s duty to retreat, but it winds up not being terribly relevant to the case. Under New York law, you don’t have to retreat before using non-deadly force. So if someone punches you in the face, you can punch them right back without trying to get to a back room. Deadly force requires retreat, but only if you know you can get away safely. If a jury thought Penny was justified in choking Neely, it would probably have to find that he couldn’t have just released him and ran. “There is no duty to retreat before using physical force but one may not use deadly physical force “if he knows that he can with complete safety as to himself and others avoid the necessity of doing so by retreating”” Matter of Y.K, 87 N.Y.2d 430, 433 (N.Y. 1996).
Some have argued that Neely had an extensive history of disorderly conduct and violence, and that this justified the restraint. But that history is irrelevant. Neely could be a professional baby-strangler or a nicer Mr. Rogers, and the jury would still be instructed not to give a damn unless Penny knew about the prior history. Here’s that instruction:
Even good people can rightfully be stopped from hurting others. And even bad people have a right not to be strangled. Courts often worry about what’s known as the “propensity” inference: the idea that someone who has done bad things in the past must be doing bad things now. This is a rule sometimes honored more in the breach than the observance—it is incredibly common for criminal defendants to have past crimes brought in under flimsy theories of motive or “intent.” But it’s hard to see what evidence of Neely’s past tells us that the testimony of witnesses and four minutes of video don’t tell us already.
How serious this crime was depends on Daniel Penny’s intent. If a jury found that Penny meant to kill Neely—that he felt the man loosen in his grip and kept squeezing to finish the job, that would be second degree murder. If instead a jury found that he knew about the risks of chokeholds, and used them anyway, killing Neely, he’d be guilty of criminally negligent homicide, or manslaughter in the second degree. Depending on what level of intent the jury found, Penny could be
convicted and never spend a day in jail.
And it’s on this point, punishment, that I want to talk about the difference between justification and mitigation. A justified homicide is one that is reasonably necessary to save your life, or someone else’s. When we say a crime is justified we say that you were correct to commit the crime. This was not a justified crime. But there are many elements that mitigate the crime. There’s no evidence that Penny set out that day to hurt someone. Neely was acting erratically. Penny acted in the spur of the moment, and other passengers assisted, without knowing that the intervention would be deadly. It might very well be true that there is no public safety benefit in having Penny spend a single day in jail. But this is distinct from saying that he did the right thing.
Many people have taken this case as an opportunity to talk about our insufficient mental health services. That’s laudable. But the thing is, Jordan Neely wasn’t even the victim of bad mental health services or an insufficient social safety net. The city was tracking him. Having social workers talk to him. Trying to get him into housing. And he was resistant at every step. Mentally ill people still have agency, and it is difficult, within constitutional bounds, to force them into treatment. Which is to say, until we figure out a way to blow dart people into sanity or do away with civil liberties, we are probably going to encounter scary, disruptive people in public, no matter how good our social services are.
All we can do is strive to treat each person in our system with as much compassion as we are able. Neely, for being a mentally ill man with a life full of tragedy. Penny, for finding his instinct to help and to protect leading instead to tragedy. To the passengers, who will likely spend the rest of their lives wondering whether they should have done something more. And to the people
who disagree with us about the right outcome in this case. A little grace can go a long way.
Penny (and the rest of the subway car) knew because Rogers was announcing it.
Rogers had a history of being violent and crazy. Rogers looked, acted, sounded, and behaved like he was violent and crazy. Penny’s belief that Rogers was violent and crazy was reasonable on the face of it.Report
Penny’s lawyers would be well within their rights to argue that Neely’s conduct at the time justified a reasonable belief that he was dangerous. But they can’t bring up Neely’s history of being crazy and possibly dangerous unless Penny knew about it.Report
Not sure how much it matters in NY but in Maryland a significant, practical consideration would be what the witnesses say. Based on the facts so far, if at least one of them says they feared for their lives/serious bodily injury and are willing to testify to that and Penny said he was using force to defend them it would be hard for the state to convict unless they could show the fear was unreasonable.
From the video it looks like there are other people holding Neeley down. Not sure if any of them have said anything on the record yet. If they have retained counsel I assume they have at least been advised not to.Report
Guy who made the video told the media he felt threatened. Add him to Penny and the other two holding him and that’s four.Report
“Based on the facts so far, if at least one of them says they feared for their lives/serious bodily injury and are willing to testify to that and Penny said he was using force to defend them it would be hard for the state to convict unless they could show the fear was unreasonable.”
Would this require that Penny knew of their fear? Like, would someone have to say, “Help! He’s trying to kill me!” to justify Penny’s intervention? Or could Penny merely argue that he sensed their fear and they confirmed it after-the-fact?Report
Under Maryland law he would have to have believed that the third party was at risk of bodily harm and his belief would have to have been reasonable. The use of force would also have to be no more than reasonably necessary in light of threatened actual force.
The other passengers would not necessarily have to have said anything at the time but saying they were after the fact would go a long way as far as evidence is concerned towards showing he also believed they were in danger and that his belief was reasonable. Then you really just get into the question of whether the use of force went too far (Maryland also has a doctrine called imperfect self defense or defense of others which can result in conviction of lesser crimes where force went beyond what was justified). All of these are questions of fact for a jury. I would see a decent chance for acquittal and unless the law is radically different in New York it would not surprise me if that is why they are still trying to decide whether to charge.Report
Not sure how this works in NY but I would think the defense of a third party doctrine (at least where I practice) might be a lot more pertinent in this situation.Report
Sounds right. My decided impression is that Penny was trying to help.Report
Even if he might have been justified at the start he kept the choke hold until he killed him. Choke holds are, no surprise , very dangerous. He’s culpable for that at the very least. He could have and should have released him from the hold.Report
Regardless of whether the killing was justified or not, this represents a complete failure of public policy, or our mental health system, and a giant blaring red light warning that must be addressed.
The people on the train, those who have watched the video, are all traumatized by it and the damage is done to our sense of stability and order.Report
Perhaps we could do a better job of suppressing video?Report
Failure yes, addressed… unclear.
All systems fail. Nelly had the opportunity to get help but choose not to. A system which forces him to do what we want is going to have it’s own set of problems. When we tried that we found it heinous. We’re inching back to that, maybe we’ll find a sweet spot where we can force them to get help but not be heinous about it.
Or maybe by definition that’s impossible.Report
Work remote has changed the paradigm of downtown centers and mass transit in such a way that I think the approach was going to need to be revisited no matter what.Report
It seems like you’re excluding the possibilities here that Penny didn’t understand the deadliness of a chokehold, and that the other riders who participated in restraining Neely did know.
There has been some discussion of Penny’s military service as creating a presumption that he understood the potential lethality of a chokehold. Is that a consideration you are operating from in not mentioning the possibility that he did not understand the level of force implied in applying a chokehold for at least 90 seconds? Will individual knowledge of that fact by Penny have to be demonstrated at trial, or will it be deemed something a reasonable person must be held liable for understanding (like presumably is the case for shooting someone)? If knowledge has to be shown, will and should Penny’s military service be used as evidence of that knowledge? If so, would you acknowledge the potential social volatility of effectively using someone’s service to the nation against him by having it establish a potentially decisive negative presumption of intent or cognizance of the potential effect of his act in a trial for a notorious homicide?Report
I used to train people in safe restraint of mentally ill adults. One of the first lessons is: Choke holds are very dangerous>>> Never do them. Now he was a Marine so very diff training. They certainly told them no choke holds so they don’t kill each other in training. Very very hard to believe he didn’t know the dangers.Report
Nothing will be stipulated at trial since generally you want to keep homicide convictions off your record at essentially all costs. No one will be in a conceding mood.
There will be no certainty about anything *he* was or wasn’t trained to believe until it is established by proof he was taught X (if they go down that road – if he is charged). Appealing to “what the Marines teach” won’t do it. Maybe something went awry in his case. They will have to show that *he* was taught *that*.
If they even go down this road.Report
When I worked for the legislature, I was asked to break down state employees’ worker’s comp claims by work area, then by cause. The state mental hospitals were far and away the most likely to have job-related injuries. Trying to deal physically with the mentally ill is dangerous for everyone.Report
This wasn’t technically a chokehold, it was a headlock. It shouldn’t have been lethal, and if it was, it was probably due to Neely’s history of drug addiction.
Yep, a headlock is a CONTROL position…something I train to get out of. A chokehold, specifically a “rear naked choke”, blocks blood flow in the carotid arteries. The types of chokes cops do, that I’ve seen, is more a windpipe crush. Either way it’s a choke.
Now, you CAN switch between chokes and headlocks, but usually it goes from headlock to choke, depending upon everyone’s positions, but most head locks I’ve seen are usually standing up. Chokes can be stand up or on the ground. 6 Seconds on a choke and you’re out. A bit longer, you’re dead.Report
OK, but Penny put Neely in a headlock, not a chokehold. That’s the point here.Report
Not disputing you point, just attempting clarity. 🙂Report
OK, thanks so much! 👍Report
You dont know what you’re talking about Greg. We absolutely do get taught chokes in training. We learn how to do rear chokes on standing opponents, as well as downed opponents, and we practice on each other as well.
We even learn front chokes as well. And this is all taught at pretty early stage in the Marine Corps’ martial arts program.
There’s an exampleReport
It’s strange. I don’t really have much to add to this. One has to assume it will come to trial and be determined there.
I probably heard about it before most people. A friend of ours from the Sunday meal distro in the park walked in on the end of it happening and he posted to Instagram pictures of a man he thought he’d seen choked into a “vegetable state” in front of him. So, I heard about it pretty much immediately, and then he learned from an Instagram comment that Neely was dead. As far as I can make out, he had just stopped moving when our friend walked in, and he actually tried to revive Neely, although Penny shooed him away. Our friend has nevertheless been tormented by guilt ever since then, and was actually arrested videotaping the police at a protest this weekend. That video is wild.
Anyway, I imagine he has much more to say about this, but I’m at a loss.Report
Your friend should offer to testify or at least talk to investigatorsReport
Yes, he has contacted and is talking with one of the detectives.
In fact, he might be the person who spoke to the ADA yesterday. One of the issues brought forth was Penny preventing others from administering aid, which would be in reference to him.Report
I don’t agree with you, Mr. Fleischman, but you did point out something that many commentators have neglected. “Jordan Neely wasn’t even the victim of bad mental health services or an insufficient social safety net. The city was tracking him. Having social workers talk to him. Trying to get him into housing. And he was resistant at every step.”
In the past few days, we have heard even cooler heads tell us that “Jordan Neely didn’t deserve to die.” But let’s review. He was a diagnosed schizophrenic who refused to take his medication or commit to therapy, as you have correctly noted. In 2021, he was offered treatment at Bellevue Mental Hospital as an alternative to incarceration for an unprovoked assault on an elderly woman that fractured her eye socket. Instead, he escaped and wandered the streets, continuing his violent rampage. Most recently, he was being investigated for pushing a commuter onto the subway tracks. He had a long history of violence, including attempted child abduction, public indecency, and assault.
At the risk of sounding cruel, if Jordan Neely didn’t deserve to die — who on earth does?
You say, “If Penny is charged, the jury will be instructed that abusive language will not be enough to justify any physical response unless Neely made a physical threat… But it will be up to Penny to show that Neely was hurting others right at the moment of restraint, rather than that he was worried what Neely would do next.”
According to reports, Neely was screaming that he would attack everyone on the train and wasn’t afraid to go to jail for the rest of his life. He was throwing things around the car, causing people to flee in terror. Penny and the other passengers attempted to restrain him peacefully, but he resisted. This all sounds like a clear-cut case of self-defense to me.
I speak as a straphanger who has lived in NYC and other major cities. I’m tired of fearing for my safety every time I use public transportation. I reserve the right to use force in self-defense.
And as for these protests, I understand why the image of a white man choking a black man to death in public would stir very uncomfortable cultural memories for black Americans, but this isn’t Alabama in 1950. It’s NYC in 2023, and blacks and other ethnic minorities have substantial political power which they are currently using in a grossly irresponsible fashion. In essence, Daniel Penny is the one being lynched.
If I were on his jury, I wouldn’t just acquit him, I would commend him.Report
“At the risk of sounding cruel, if Jordan Neely didn’t deserve to die — who on earth does?”
The purposeful killing of someone is only justified as a last and only option. Neely should have been committed involuntarily unless or until he could prove he was no longer a threat to others.Report
The man died accidentally in an effort to restrain him from attacking and probably killing others. It was self-defense, pure and simple.Report
The question was “Who deserves to die?” I don’t think anyone deserves to die. I don’t even know what it means to deserve to die.Report
Here’s a nice write up of the self-defense defense: https://www.demilialaw.com/legal-tips/is-self-defense-a-justification-in-new-york/
New York state law has a duty to retreat.Report
Retreat is extremely difficult in a subway car. Also, the force used in this case was not intended to be lethal.
Seriously, Jordan Neely was an unstable psychotic with a long history of violence who attacked people in a subway car and threatened their lives. Stop with this nonsense.Report
In my days of of riding the el here in Chicago, I recall it being quite easy to move from car to car.Report
Penny held the chokehold for 15 minutes, from what I know. There is no point in the NYC subway system where you can possibly have a 15 minute wait to get off the train, much less have the supposedly escalation _before_ all that.
Also, as Slade points out, every subway system lets you move between cars. Every subway system tells you not to, but you can, because you _have to_ be able to, those doors cannot be locked, as there can be emergency situations where it’s the only way to exit the train. Or the car if the car has become unsafe.
You know, the exact situation here.Report
15 minutes is a rumor.
Cops got 5x 911 calls before Nelly was grabbed starting at 2:27. Also at 2:27 they got reports of a fight.
They showed up at 2:30 and started giving first aid.
Fire Department showed up at 2:46
Unclear how long he was choked but Penny did notice he was out and put him on his side before the cops showed up.
Given how many times he was arrested and/or went to the mental hospital, this has probably already happened a dozen times.
This wasn’t purposeful. It was certainly risking Nelly’s life. We’re in “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” territory. What do we expect random civilians to do with a violent raving lunatic when the police aren’t around?Report
“Given how many times he was arrested and/or went to the mental hospital, this has probably already happened a dozen times.”
Then that system is broken.
To your second point, I was not weighing in on the specifics of this case but on the broader question of “Who deserves to die?”Report
Nobody deserves to die. I was making a crude joke for which I apologize. But the truth about Jordan Neely is that he was a wretched specimen whose death is frankly his own fault.
The system is clearly broken. Neely should have been institutionalized years ago.Report
Far as I can tell, he had between dozens and hundreds of opportunities to be so. Ergo he was opposed to being institutionalized and probably opposed to getting mental health help at all.
This isn’t my field, but my impression is there are sanity pills for what he had but some people refuse to take them.Report
Darn it. I hit return on the wrong box.
To continue, it’s very difficult to create the legal/social tools to “help” him with also creating vast opportunities for those tools to be misused.
Worse, it’s even possible that it’s a misuse of those tools to “help” him, because he clearly doesn’t want help.Report
Exactly. Neely resisted the system at every turn. Given that he had no ability to make rational choices, its hard to know how much you can hold it against him, but he didn’t fall through the cracks, he slithered through them.Report
That’s some catch, that Catch- 22!Report
Yes. The big saving grace is it’s made by mother nature and logic, not by us.
The line between sanity and insanity is very soft and very grey and very very wide. Every tool that can be abused will be abused.
My wife and I both think the other person is insane. We both think we’re sane. We’re getting divorced. We’re fighting over the kid.
Why shouldn’t we both try to have the other person involuntarily committed if it’s going to help us win the kid?Report
“…blacks and other ethnic minorities have substantial political power which they are currently using in a grossly irresponsible fashion.”
Can you provide examples please?Report
Is this where the Congressional Black Caucus exchange used to be? It looks like it was knocked out by a troll purge. But I think it’s worth putting it back on the record.
Some commenter made a comment about the CBC being corrupt. Kazzy asked for one example. The commenter mentioned Charlie Rangel and one other case, I forget who. I added Jesse Jackson Jr. and William Jefferson. While looking around Wikipedia, I also just ran across Chaka Fattah, who was a former member who then ran for mayor and served time for crimes associated with that campaign.
I think it’s worth posting this comment because it sheds a light on willful ignorance.Report
Those are individual members of Congress. Saying that corruption by individual members of Congress damns every association they have… well, that’d damn the whole kit and kaboodle.
It is a really unique proposition to argue that “blacks and other ethnic minorities have substantial political power which they are currently using in a grossly irresponsible fashion.”
You want to die on that hill?Report
You had asked for a single example of a corrupt member of the CBC. That was your request. The only way I can be faulted is for providing several. As for Matthew’s position, take it up with him. My objective is just to not tell falsehoods. I don’t require black officials to be corrupt, but I don’t have to deny truth either. It’s liberating.Report
Well, I actually asked for an example of the CBC being corrupt. To me, that is different than asking about individual member’s corruption. Then again, those comments disappears so…
Again, the original assertion was: “blacks and other ethnic minorities have substantial political power which they are currently using in a grossly irresponsible fashion.”
And when asked for examples, the original writer of that sentence merely handwaved and said, “The CBC.”
Nothing offered — by you or the original writer of that statement — actually supports it.
If you don’t support it and the person who did is gone from here, we can just let it whither on the vine.Report
I said nothing about the CBC. If you want high-profile examples of sensational cases in which race was used irresponsibly, well, there’s the OJ trial, the Tawana Brawley affair, and the Duke lacrosse case to name a few.Report
Apologies… someone else commented in response but then had their comments removed.
But you have yet to substantiate this claim:
““…blacks and other ethnic minorities have substantial political power which they are currently using in a grossly irresponsible fashion.””
You say “currently” and then reference cases from decades ago.
What about this case shows what you claim in that quote?Report
I don’t know what you’re looking for here. Al Sharpton is involved, so you know there’s sleazy racial demagoguery afoot, and every major Democratic politician in NYC seems to be calling for a decorated 24 year-old marine’s head on a platter for trying to protect himself and others.
From your link:
“Mayor Eric Adams signed a bill Thursday mandating police training to better help people with autism.
He has not called for charges against the Marine veteran, saying he doesn’t want to interfere with the case, but said the city failed to help Neely.
“Let’s be clear. Let’s be honest. There are more Jordans out there. I said this over and over again — I see them, talk to them, I interact with them. We need to make sure we prevent these things from happening,” Adams said.”
Do you want to try that again?
Again, your statement was: “…blacks and other ethnic minorities have substantial political power which they are currently using in a grossly irresponsible fashion.”
So, let’s paint with broad strokes about ALL Black and “ethnic minority” politicians and leaders, applying a standard that we do not apply to white politicians and leaders. You have also yet to actually substantiate this. Even your link counters your point.Report
I never said ALL. When did I say “all?” Here’s quotes from another article:
“Jordan Neely was murdered,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted Wednesday. “Jordan was houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself while many in power demonize the poor, the murderer gets protected w/ passive headlines + no charges. It’s disgusting,”
“Black men seem to always be choked to death,” Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said Wednesday. “Jordan Neely did not have to die. It’s as simple as that. Yet we have another Black man publicly executed.”
Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman were joined by New York City Comptroller Brand Lander, who called the Marine veteran responsible for subduing Neely a “vigilante.”
“…every major Democratic politician in NYC seems to be calling for a decorated 24 year-old marine’s head on a platter for trying to protect himself and others.”
From the same article:
“Jordan Neely was lynched,” tweeted New York State Sen. Jabari Brisport. “He had no food, no water, no safe place to rest. He had the audacity to publicly yell about that massive injustice, so they killed him.”
“It was vigilantism,” he wrote.
“This was a lynching,” another New York State Senator, Julia, Salazar, said….
Meanwhile, the New York Working Families Party argued Neely was “brutally murdered.”
“Jordan Neely loved to dance and perform,” the party said on Twitter. “On Tuesday, while suffering a mental health crisis, he was choked to death while people watched and cheered. Jordan needed care. Instead, he was brutally murdered. This is not who we are as New Yorkers.”…
“NYC’s 2nd Black Mayor just All Lives Mattered the murder of a mentally ill Black man who was killed by a blood thirsty vigilante. Representation though, right?” tweeted New York City Councilman Chi Ossé.
This case is a perfect example.Report
Ah. Well, that was a different case.
In truth, my comment was facetious, and if we’re being honest, in questionable taste. Jordan Neely was a sick man who needed help. But he refused to get it, and this is the entirely predictable result.Report
Wiki has gotten together various things I’ve seen, it’s worth a read
Seeing reports now that Penny will be charged with 2nd degree manslaughter.
Probably the right charge.
With a “but”.
This is going to be a *VERY* high-profile case. Much higher profile than most 2nd degree manslaughter cases. Like, I can’t think of a better charge or way to play this but it’s going to be a dang zoo.Report
If it goes to trial, yes it probably will be. IMO these sorts of questions are exactly what the jury system is for.Report
There is going to be SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much Monday morning quarterbacking. No matter what happens or how it plays. They should have known better than to keep that juror. They should have known better than to excuse that juror. They should never have asked that question of the guy on the stand. The judge should never have overruled that objection.
And the trial is going to happen… when? In spitting distance of an election?
Seriously. What a complete s— show.Report
We will see. I have a different feeling about this one. It seems kind of like a sequel that’s trying way too hard to capture the depth and intensity of the original but just doesn’t have the chops or lacks whatever it was that tapped into the zeitgeist.
Two things stick out to me that make me think this will not be terribly significant or memorable. First, no guns were involved which by itself removes the situation from a well established source of contention. Second, the actual local leaders and authorities seem to be proceeding by the book and with restraint. Activists are gonna activist and AOC is gonna AOC but that by itself does not an official capital
Controversy with major partisan ramifications make.Report
Is it a sequel to Chavin or Rittenhouse?
Depends on if they change the venue, I guess.Report
For whatever it’s worth, I have not heard a word about the case among the dozens of New Yorkers I interact with each day.
If that is indeed representative of anything, I’d say it is that this case is of interest to legal folks (As the OP explores, there are real legal questions involved), to activists, and to very online folks.
My take? I’d rather Neely not have died, I’d rather we have better systems for helping someone like him, his story feels tragic and yet… I get it. You’re in a confined space with someone acting the way he was described to be acting, I’m hard pressed to second guess Penny’s actions as I understand them. It wouldn’t shock me if that was more or less the person-on-the-street take among locals: Man, it sucks what happened to him but what ya gonna do?Report
This is actually very well-said. I tend to agree that in general we need to do a better job helping the mentally ill, especially refunding the outpatient programs for schizophrenics that got defunded in the 1980s. But it’s not clear that any of that would have helped Neely that much given his repeated refusals of any offer of aid. Thanks, though. Very thoughtful.Report
I came across the below that attempts to cobble together a rough timeline based on news articles published so far.
Assuming it holds up the key thing to me is that he was permitted to leave the bed in Bellevue he was given. Had they been able to compel him to stay maybe this wouldn’t have happened.Report
“Assuming it holds up the key thing to me is that he was permitted to leave the bed in Bellevue he was given. Had they been able to compel him to stay maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”
This to me is my main question. I won’t pretend to have an answer since I know the entire mental health system — including and perhaps in particular the involuntary holding of someone — is both very very complicated and very very broken.
It is also not lost on me that the trauma he suffered goes back to his childhood, including the murder of his mother and ending up in the foster care system as a result. If further digging was done, it would not shock me to learn that his mother and her murdered also had a history of trauma and/or interactions with failed systems. More than anything, his case shines a light on how broken so many systems are and the cumulative effect — on individuals, families, and communities, on timescales long and short — and my sincere hope is that more attention is paid to those. I’m not interested in arguing about restraint techniques and my comment above is about as far as I’ll go in weighing in on what happened on the subway car. But at pretty much every inflection point for Jordan Neely, things went wrong. He absolutely bears some responsibility for that, especially the most recent ones, but it is also hard to hold him entirely blameworthy for his fate when he was failed and traumatized so many times, starting at such a young age. And that is before we even know (and we may never know) how many of his mental health needs might have been present even in the best of circumstances.Report
I think it’s fair to look at Penny’s fate based on what he did in the subway and the larger situation with Neely as two separate things, even if one to some degree led to the other.
On the latter it seems to me that for a combination of budgetary and civil liberties reasons we have erred pretty hard against committing people to help they desperately need against their will. I understand Neely had ‘escaped’ a halfway house he was in as part of a plea agreement but the question remains open as to whether we are getting that balance right. I’m not sure we are, or what the answer is.Report
Apparently, NYC keeps a list of “Top 50”.
From the NYT:
Neely was an outlier among outliers among outliers.Report
Outpatient clinics need to be refunded to deal with the massive homeless schizophrenic problem. However, in cases where an individual patient refuses treatment, involuntary commitment is simply the only option. Neely should have been locked up in an institution, and that’s where the court sent him before he escaped.Report
Thanks so much for this. Very illuminating.Report
Really great link. Thank you… hmm…
1) 5x 911 calls.
2) Looks like he was held down for 3-5 minutes and choked for less than that.
3) Since March 2020, at least 27 people have been murdered in NY subways. Many by mentally-ill people with a history of aggressive behavior at stations.
NY has a problem.
4) These dates of him being violent understate his problem. His last one was in 2021, but he was in prison for a year and a half after that.
5) (Speculation) We might be looking at a nasty intersection between drug addiction and mental illness. Is he refusing to stay in the mental hospital because they’re not going to let him get his drug of choice?Report
Something I learned from MattY: Neely had a warrant.
Something I learned from the thread: A lawsuit from earlier prevented police from holding someone and checking for a warrant.
Because we are talking about the police, we first start this discussion by literally throwing away everything the police and defenders of the police have said, and check the actual original sources instead. Because the police lie about literally everything.
In this case, it’s easy enough to read the article and notice that the lawsuit doesn’t stop the police from checking for warrants for people detained _for some actual reason_. It stops the police from just…grabbing someone and holding them until ‘they finish checking the warrants’.
I.e., if Neely had been detained for harassing people, to the extent that the police had _literally anything_ to charge him with, they would have found his warrant. Hell, he could have been detained merely under the suspicion he was going to commit a crime and they would have checked for warrants.
But, when something like this happens, you’ll have defenders of the police step forward and make bogus claims like this, apparently hoping no one notices that what they are claiming is: Neely should have been _harassed by the police_ for _no reason_, and when they decided to waste his time by ‘checking for warrants’, they would have found one.
The fact someone occasionally has an illegal gun doesn’t justify stop-and-frisk, and the fact that someone occasionally has a warrant for their arrest doesn’t justify stop-and-do-warrant-check.
Hell, it’s worth pointing out that nothing stops the police from interacting with someone and doing a warrant check after. It would have been perfectly acceptable for some police officer to interact with Neely, notice he seemed really weird, and run a check for any outstanding warrants. The lawsuit merely says the police can’t DETAIN HIM while they do that, that they can’t use the lack of having run a warrant check as justification to hold someone while they do so. As far as I know, they’re allowed to run any name through the database for any reason! What they can’t do is hassle people (And by ‘people’ we usually mean minorities) by making them stand there while they do that.Report
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, maybe the police should use some of their utterly massive budget to figure out a way to do warrant checks faster.
But, as everyone who has ever been pulled over knows, they don’t actually want to make things faster, because making you wait is how they get off on using their authority…they consider it punishment they’re allowed to dole out.
99% of the time the person driving a car can be narrowed down to one or two people simply by checking the insurance database off the license plate, and the police could walk up _already_ having a picture of all the drivers on the insurance, not even needing your license or anything. In fact, they _have_ already done that, they always report and check the license plate before coming up to you, just in case you actually are a dangerous criminal. Your information is right there on the screen, as both the owner and person on the car insurance.
But they still make you hand over the physical license and pretend like they have to check it and basically just waste your time. For fun.Report