Subway chokehold death topic of mind at City Council hearing on mental health

Darla Miles Image
Thursday, May 4, 2023
Subway chokehold death topic of mind at City Council hearing
The New York City Council is taking action on mental health just days after the chokehold death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely on the subway.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York City Council on Thursday took action on mental health care, a topic now at the forefront of many minds following the chokehold death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely on the subway Monday.

Neely had a long history of mental illness, and many leaders believe he slipped through the cracks, a story that's all too common in New York City. Now, lawmakers want to change that.

"Tragic deaths like Jordan Neely's are the inevitable result of our city refusing to acknowledge the basic dignity that all of us have as human beings," Councilmember Shahana Hanif said.

Prior to the chokehold death of Jordan Neely during an episode of erratic behavior on the F train on Monday, the 30-year-old had a long, documented history of mental illness. So, it's not surprising, the incident came into focus in a previously scheduled City Council committee hearing on mental health.

30-year-old Jordan Neely died from a chokehold after another passenger subdued him on a subway train in Manhattan.

"Honestly I'm having trouble treating today's hearing as business as usual," Hanif said. "Jordan Neely was murdered on the subway by a vigilante on Monday. He should be alive right now."

The business at hand was to hear testimony on a package of legislation to expand a range of resources put forth in the council's mental health roadmap announced last week.

New York City Council unveiled its roadmap to expanding mental health care across the city on Monday. Darla Miles has the story.

"How tragic and awful is it that here we are the day after Jordan Neely was murdered on the floor of a subway car rather than helped, he was killed," Councilmember Erik Bottcher said.

Hanif believes help, through an existing program, should be included in the roadmap.

"When B-Heard was announced, the goal was to have a non-police response to 70% of mental health calls," Hanif said. "My understanding is that so far, the number is significantly lower."

"In the next week we will be releasing data about B-Heard, and so today we are here to talk about the bills that are being legislated," said Laquisha Grant, Senior Director of the Mayor's Office Crisis Response.

Hanif then responded by saying, "that's something I'd like further to engage on, particularly what we saw happened with Jordan Neely and the necessity in having mental health response teams in our subways."

Despite the different mental health being considered the city and state, there seems to be one consensus.

"This was a tragedy, and our hearts go out to Mr. Neely's family and his loved ones," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. "As the city's doctor, no one deserves to lose their life with a mental illness."


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