A Marine veteran felt “authorized” to kill Jordan Neely on a train on the New York City subway and has expressed no remorse, the homeless man’s family said.
Lawyers for 24-year-old Daniel J Penny on Friday said Mr. Neely, 30, had “aggressively threatened” him and other people using the F train in Manhattan on May 1.
Video shot by a freelance journalist and posted online showed Penny lying underneath Mr Neely, holding him in a headlock position for several minutes as she tried and failed to free herself.
When police reached the train, he was unconscious and died at the scene.
Representatives for Mr. Neely’s family responded, saying Penny had no regard for the black man’s life.
“Daniel Penny’s press release is neither an apology nor an expression of regret,” said family attorneys Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards.
“It’s a character assassination and a clear example of why he believed he had the right to take Jordan’s life.”
Penny’s attorneys said Mr. Neely had been suffering from mental illness for a long time and had a documented history of violent and erratic behavior.
Witnesses on May 1 said the Michael Jackson impersonator shouted he was hungry and ready to die before he died held by at least three other passengers.
But Mr. Neely’s family said Penny could not have known about his past struggles before he applied a choke.
“The truth is, he didn’t know anything about Jordan’s story when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan’s neck, and he squeezed and kept squeezing,” Mills and Edwards said.
“She never tried to help him. In short, her actions on the train, and now her words, show why she needs to be in jail.”
Mr Penny, who was questioned by police and released, has not been charged.