'Jordan Neely did not deserve to die': Mayor Adams speaks on chokehold death

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
'Jordan Neely did not deserve to die,' Mayor Adams says
Mayor Eric Adams gave his first substantial comments on Jordan Neely's death in a closed press event that was live-streamed.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Mayor Eric Adams give his first substantial comments on Jordan Neely's chokehold death in a closed press event that was live-streamed on Wednesday.

Neely died more than a week ago on the subway after witnesses say he was harassing passengers.

Adams would not comment about whether he believed the Marine veteran who held Neely in the chokehold should be charged, instead he focused on reform and how to better support the city's homeless and mentally ill.

"One of our own is dead, a Black man, Black like me, a man named Jordan, a name I gave my son," Adams said. "One thing we know for sure, Jordan Neely did not deserve to die."

Adams said that people who struggle with mental illness are often "caught up in a cycle of violence, sometimes as the perpetrator, but more often as the victim."

"We will respond with care, compassion, and action," Adams said.

He used the press conference as a spring board to call to attention his plan to help the homeless and mentally ill in the city. Adams talked about the important work the behavioral health task force to help people who are refusing care.

He said that if they are found to be unable to take care of themselves, violent, or in need of mental health care, they will be brought to the hospital to receive that much-needed care.

Adams said he scheduled a summit next week, bringing together the five city funded organizations contracted for homeless outreach services. The goal of the summit is to improve their methods and develop an action plan "to ensure accountability," ensuring that removals to hospitals where an individual's need for mental health treatment can be assessed while appropriate.

The mayor said he will also convene a meeting with faith leaders later Wednesday.

And he once again asked Albany to pass a law that would make it easier to assist people who don't know they need help, legislation that would strengthen Kendra's Law and clarify the state has the authority to intervene when people are not able to meet their basic needs.

"There were many people who did care about a man named Jordan. But it wasn't enough this time. We must keep trying before we lose another Jordan," Mayor Adams said as he wrapped his remarks.

Attorneys for Neely's family had been asking Mayor Adams to give them a call. The mayor said he had tried.

Eyewitness News Reporter N.J. Burkett has more:

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is calling on officials to bring charges against Daniel Penny for the death of Jordan Neely.

The NYCLU later issued a statement that said in part, "The mayor's insistence on controlling those in need, instead of taking on the city's housing crisis or lack of access to health care only fuels stigma against homeless New Yorkers and those living with mental illness."

Adams' conference came as more witnesses spoke out and public pressure mounted. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Comptroller Brad Lander added to that pressure Wednesday morning.

Williams and Lander joined mental health advocates at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station to call for criminal charges to be brought in this case.

"We can't be a city where you can choke someone to death as experiencing a mental health crisis without any consequence," Lander said.

Williams said prosecutors need to act and insists that the video speaks for itself.

"Jordan Neely was unjustly killed and charges must be immediately brought against the person who killed him."

Protesters have been demanding the arrest of 24-year-old Daniel Penny, a Marine veteran who was captured on video putting Neely in a chokehold.

Penny said he was defending himself and others after Neely harassed and threatened them. But, Neely's family has called the death an injustice. The video of Neely's death sparked protests in the city and a heated discussion on mental health help.

Neely had a history of cycling out of psychiatric facilities and jail.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is in the process of interviewing witnesses, saying they are working behind the scenes right now.

"We follow the facts. I've now been saying that in a bunch of contexts, but it's what we do," Bragg said. "We carefully scrutinize after we gather it, all available evidence. And we do that work mostly behind closed doors. And that's important because we don't want to impair investigations."

There is no indication yet when a grand jury will convene to weigh charges against Penny.

Neely's family announced his funeral will take place May 19 at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem. Neely's family has requested Rev. Al Sharpton to deliver his eulogy.

ALSO READ | Jordan Neely's family calls Daniel Penny's statement 'admission of guilt'

As police search for trespassers in the protest, the public awaits whether a grand jury will charge Daniel Penny for putting Neely in the deadly chokehold. Derick Waller reports.


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