A fundraiser for Daniel Penny neared the $2 million mark Sunday, with his attorneys saying donations have kept rolling in because the subway chokehold case has “struck a chord” in the psyche of people across the country.
The “Legal Defense Fund” for Penny — the 24-year-old former Marine charged with manslaughter in the death of homeless man Jordan Neely — had eclipsed $1.8 million in donations by Sunday evening.
“The outpouring of support for Danny is always measured by the amount raised, but what is even more telling is that tens of thousands of people from all over the world have taken the time to donate,” Penny’s attorney, Steven M. Raiser, wrote in an email to The Post.
“This level of support demonstrates that the situation forced upon him in that subway car earlier this month, and his subsequent arrest, has struck a chord in the psyche of New Yorkers and has been echoed nationwide,” Raiser wrote.
“The message being sent by this massive showing of support is that any attempt to undermine the right and duty to protect one another against an imminent threat will be challenged.”
Penny was charged Friday with second-degree manslaughter for allegedly choking and killing Neely, 30, a former street performer with a long history of mental illness, during a May 1 subway ride on an F train in Manhattan. He was released on $100,000 bail.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg must now try to secure a grand jury indictment before the case can proceed, Raiser said.
Penny’s attorneys, who launched the GiveSendGo campaign on his behalf, have said he didn’t intend to kill Neely when he put him the chokehold and was merely trying to defend himself and fellow straphangers from a threatening homeless man.
The fundraiser had raised some $1.4 million by Saturday night. Several donors wrote that they were praying for the former infantry squad leader.
“This guy is a hero in my eyes,” one anonymous donor wrote. “He should get a medal for what he did not jail time … We need to take our City back. God bless this guy for trying to help.”
Neely’s family has said Penny should be tried for murder.
“He never attempted to help [Neely] at all,” the Neely family’s attorneys, Donte Mills and Lennon Edward, wrote last week in a statement. “You cannot ‘assist’ someone with a chokehold.”
The tail end of the confrontation was caught on a bystander’s video. In the clip, Penny wrapped his arms around the neck of the homeless Neely as other commuters held his arms.
According to witness accounts, Neely was acting erratically and was threatening other passengers before Penny stepped in.
Neely had a long history of mental illness and had several prior arrests.
The city medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide, noting he died due to “compression of neck (chokehold).”
The money raised by the GiveSendGo campaign will go to Penny’s defense team at Raiser & Kenniff, according to the page.
Any excess money will be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City.