NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The godfather of the man who died in a chokehold on the subway told Eyewitness News Friday that the death seemed like an injustice, adding that he had questions about the motivations of the former Marine, who was caught on video restraining Jordan Neely.
"I'm not feeling too good about it," the godfather, Barry Knibb, told Eyewitness News reporter Darla Miles. "I mean, what happened, you know, seemed like it's an injustice. And I'm like, I'm asking the question is about this guy was a veteran."
Meanwhile, the father of Jordan Neely was seen on Friday hanging his head while struggling to process the death of his son as the family copes with the death.
"They're grieving," family attorney Lennon Edwards said. "They're dealing with the whirlwind of attention to the circumstances. And at the same time, they're dealing with the loss of a loved one. It's it's traumatic for them as well. It's it's horrible."
Neely's godfather spoke of the questions the family has about what happened on that F train in Manhattan on Monday afternoon.
"So my question is, what is this?" Knibb said. "You know, what are they doing about this guy, this evaluation? What's the real problem? What triggered him to do what he did?"
Neely, 30, was a subway performer who was held in a chokehold on an uptown F train, with a Marine veteran caught on camera restraining Neely for nearly 15 minutes, according to the family's attorney.
"We have a civilian also who's really you know, in my view, this is somebody who's a trained killer," Edwards said. "He is an ex-Marine, and he understood the art of hand-to-hand combat."
Police said the 24-year-old Marine veteran, identified as Daniel Penny, told investigators that Neely was acting erratically and was scaring passengers. But Neely had not become violent and had not been threatening anyone in particular. Detectives have interviewed more than half-a-dozen witnesses and are still looking to talk to a few more who saw what happened.
Penny's attorney released a statement saying in part, "The law firm of Raiser and Kenniff, P.C. represents Daniel Penny, a twenty-four-year-old college student and Marine veteran. Earlier this week Daniel Penny was involved in a tragic incident on the NYC Subway, which ended in the death of Jordan Neely."
The statement went on to say,
"We would first like to express, on behalf of Daniel Penny, our condolences to those close to Mr. Neely. Mr. Neely had a documented history of violent and erratic behavior, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness. When Mr. Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and the other passengers, Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves, until help arrived. Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.
For too long, those suffering from mental illness have been treated with indifference. We hope that out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways."
A grand jury is expected to be convened as early as next week to hear evidence in the death of Neely and determine if charges are warranted.
The Marines began chokehold training, a part of a martial arts program that started in 2001.
The NYPD banned the use of a chokehold in 1993 and a September 2021 memo from the Department of Justice banned it as well. That memo read: "I am directing the department's law enforcement components to revise their policies to explicitly prohibit the use of chokeholds and the carotid restraint technique unless deadly force is authorized."
Neely's death has sparked protests across the city.
Knibb said all that Neely, known for playing Michael Jackson in the subway, was seeking on that train was some food.
"All he was asking, crying out for some food from what his father was telling me, that's all he wanted," Knibb said. "Something to eat."
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