Daniel Penny, a Marine veteran charged in the death of a homeless Black man he put in a chokehold on the New York City subway, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide during a court appearance Wednesday.
Penny, 24, was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month in the death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely on May 1.
He only spoke to say “not guilty” when asked how he had pleaded during the hearing, which lasted less than five minutes.
He is due back in court on October 25.
Penny surrendered to police in May and has been out on a $100,000 bond. The bail conditions were unchanged during Wednesday’s hearing.
Penny, who is White, confronted Neely on a subway train after Neely began shouting at passengers that he was hungry and thirsty and didn’t care whether he died. Penny forced Neely to the train floor and put him in a chokehold until he stopped breathing. A medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide.
The incident was partially captured on video that was posted online and sparked demonstrations calling for justice in the case.
Neely was on a New York City Department of Homeless Services list of the city’s homeless with acute needs – sometimes referred to internally as the “Top 50” list – because people on the list tend to disappear, a source told CNN.
Penny’s actions were “fully justified,” his attorneys said in a statement after his indictment.
“While we respect the decision of the grand jury to move this case forward to trial, it should be noted that the standard of proof in a grand jury is very low and there has been no finding of wrongdoing,” attorneys Steven Raiser and Thomas Kenniff said in the statement.
Attorneys for Neely’s family championed the indictment during a news conference after the hearing, saying, “When justice happens … don’t be shocked.”
“Daniel Penny killed a man. He took a life,” attorney Donte Mills said outside of court.
Attorney Lennon Edwards continued, “Even a legal defense fund, even interviews that took place weeks before this happened, can’t make justice look the other way – so please keep watching.”
CNN previously reported a legal defense fund set up for Penny has garnered more than $2.9 million in donations.
In May, Penny told the New York Post he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life.”
Penny told the newspaper he would take action in a similar situation again, “if there was a threat and danger in the present.” Penny said he is not a White supremacist and race was not a factor.