NEW YORK (WABC) -- Former Marine Daniel Penny was seen on video placing Jordan Neely, 30, in a chokehold for several minutes on an F train. Witnesses in the same car say right before, the victim was yelling and acting erratically but had not become physically violent.
Lance Clarke tells Eyewitness News it is a side of Neely he never saw. He first met him about a decade ago performing at a birthday party.
"The kids loved him, you thought he was Michael Jackson," Clarke said.
That is what Neely, who was homeless, did on the subway.
Clarke often ran into him and developed a friendship with him, but says over time he noticed a change - the MJ outfit was gone and Neely was struggling.
"I'd bring him to the building and give him a bag of clothes - whatever I could do to help, I'd tell him 'ring the bell, whatever you need, just let me know,'" Clarke said.
The last time Clarke saw Neely was about a year ago.
"He looked visibly in pain and hurting where he couldn't perform. Said 'I'm hungry, people help me,'" added Clarke.
Neely's death has sparked protest throughout New York City. Police arrested 13 people at one protest on Saturday night.
It is a case that is expected to go to the grand jury next week.
Neely, who has a history of mental illness, had been arrested more than 40 times.
Clarke is an attorney, and while he is not working on this case, he does expect charges to be filed against Penny, who says he never intended to harm Neely.
"We put the most on society's most vulnerable people. We don't invest in our citizens, this is what happens," Clarke said.
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