On Friday, Jordan Neely's family held his funeral, and watched as his casket was lowered into the earth. On Saturday, Daniel Penny, the man who put Neely in a fatal chokehold on a subway car earlier this month, gave an exclusive interview to the New York Post.
"This had nothing to do with race," the 24-year-old former Marine told the tabloid, while sitting in a gazebo on Long Island. "I judge a person based on their character. I'm not a white supremacist."
The Post story is unique for the paper in that it portrays a criminal defendant with a level of nuance and empathy that many other legally innocent New Yorkers who have appeared in its pages would have appreciated.
There are pictures of Penny—portraits taken by a Post photographer, snapshots of Penny in Guatemala—paired with Penny talking about how "at home" he feels with different cultures abroad and how he felt that he "needed to serve my community in some way" after the 9/11 attacks, which happened when he was a toddler. "I mean, it's, it's a little bit comical," Penny said. "Everybody who's ever met me can tell you, I love all people, I love all cultures. You can tell by my past and all my travels and adventures around the world. I was actually planning a road trip through Africa before this happened."
But why did Penny put Neely in a minutes-long chokehold—a maneuver banned by the NYPD and federal law enforcement agencies—that other Marines have described as a last resort for use in a kill-or-be-killed situation, when all Neely had done was yell on the train?
Penny wouldn't say, citing the second-degree manslaughter charges he's currently facing. But he said he wouldn't do anything differently, and that he had nothing to be "ashamed of."
"I don't, I mean, I always do what I think is right," he said.
Both Penny and the Post's framing are clear about who is actually to blame for Neely's death: "the system," a statement which would typically be held up for ridicule by a Murdoch-owned property. In this case, though, it's head-shaking food for thought.
"I'm deeply saddened by the loss of life," Penny said, when asked what he would tell Neely's family. "It's tragic what happened to him. Hopefully, we can change the system that's so desperately failed us."
Asked what he was doing after the interview, Penny told the Post that he was going surfing.
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Unlike Daniel Penny, some Long Islanders don't feel as "at home" with other cultures: Suffolk County is looking at taking legal action to block asylum seekers from going there.