Who is Daniel Penny? Marine in Jordan Neely NY choke subway death


Daniel Penny, the Marine facing a manslaughter charge in the subway chokehold killing of Jordan Neely, grew up in a middle-class military family on Long Island — and his childhood was more average than privileged, friends and family said.

“Danny,” now 24, a high school athlete who joined the Marines right after graduation, and was always “calm” and “inclusive,” said friends. He lived out of a van at one point.

He is being “railroaded,” said loved ones angry at the rush to judgment over Neely’s death and those who have branded Penny a “murderer” for the May 1 incident.

Penny was arrested and later released on $100,000 bail in the death of Neely, a homeless Michael Jackson impersonator who was allegedly acting erratically and threatening before Penny subdued him.

“It’s disgusting. Here’s a young man who served our country. What about the other two gentlemen on the subway who were helping him [restrain Neely]? They haven’t even been named,” said Penny’s cousin, Justine Baldwin.

Baldwin recalled Penny as a “handsome, fun kid who could always be counted on when you needed help.”

Penny and his three sisters grew up jammed together in a three-bedroom home in West Islip with their parents, who later divorced.

Friends recall the Penny house and Danny himself as normal and welcoming.

Daniel Penny
Daniel Penny served 4 years in the Marines and was deployed twice, rising to the rank of sergeant before he was honorably discharged in 2021, his lawyer said.
William Farrington

Videos Penny made as a young teen with local friends such as Devin Marino and Tyler Varley show a group of adolescents shooting hoops on a suburban street and running around the Smith Haven Mall in nearby Lake Grove.

“I knew those videos would pop up one day,” Marino jokingly told The Post Saturday.

He said he met Penny in elementary school and was friends with him through high school.

“Danny was always fun and goofy and never harmed anyone,” Marino said.

“He was always super-inclusive.”

Marino said he spent “the better part of middle school” at the Penny home.

“His family was really nice and had an open door policy,” Marino said.

Jordan Neely
Penny was arrested and later released on $100,000 bail in the death of Neely, a homeless man who was allegedly acting erratically and threatening before Penny subdued him.
Juan Vazquez

“He was a great kid,” Tyler Varley’s sister Julia told The Post.

“I’ve known him all my life.”

Danny enjoyed his role as the only boy in the family with three sisters, his cousin said.

“He was always there for his family and his sisters, especially,” Baldwin said.

“Danny has always been calm, he comes from a calm family.”

Penny, whose grandfather served in the US Navy and uncles in the Merchant Marines, was a star lacrosse player at West Islip High School.

Daniel Penny
A fundraiser for Penny’s defense had raised $ 1.2 million as of Saturday afternoon.

He served four years in the Marines and deployed twice, rising to the rank of sergeant before he was honorably discharged in 2021, according to his lawyer, Thomas Kenniff.

Marcia Mulcahy and her husband, Pat, lived across the street from Danny Penny, his father and his grandfather in West Islip for four years.

NYC subway choking victim Jordan Neely: What we know

When: May 1, 2023

Who: Jordan Neely, 30, a homeless man was fatally strangled aboard a northbound F train just before
2:30 p.m., according to police.

He reportedly started acting erratically on the train and harassing other passengers before being
restrained and ultimately choked by a straphanger, identified as a 24-year-old marine from Queens.

The marine, who was seen on video applying the chokehold, was taken into custody and later released
but the DA is mulling charges, which could include involuntary manslaughter, according to experts.

Fallout: The city medical examiner ruled Neely’s death a homicide, noting he died due to “compression
of neck (chokehold).” This will be weighed during the investigation into whether charges will be brought
for Neely’s death.

Neely’s aunt told The Post that he became a “complete mess” following the brutal murder of his mother
in 2007. She noted he was schizophrenic while suffering from PTSD and depression.

“The whole system just failed him. He fell through the cracks of the system,” Carolyn Neely said.

Law enforcement sources said Neely had “numerous” arrests on his record, including for drugs,
disorderly conduct, and fare beating.

At the time of his death, Neely had a warrant out for his arrest for a November 2021 case where he was
accused of assaulting a 67-year-old woman in the East Village, the sources said.

Mayor Eric Adams has said it’s important for the DA to complete the investigation into Neely’s death and
not rush to conclusions.

“Danny was a nice kid, a lovely kid,” Marcia Mulcahy told The Post.

“The family could not have been nicer.”

“Just look at the [fundraiser] to see how people feel about him,” Mulcahy added of Penny’s legal defense fund on GiveSendGo, which had raised $ 1.2 million as of Saturday afternoon.

“We’re all contributing to it. He was just trying to help on the subway. It was obviously a scary situation and it all went wrong. But he didn’t go in there trying to hurt anyone. He was trying to help.”

In the years following his parents’ split and his time in the service, Penny seemed to be finding himself, according to neighbors and his own account.

At one point, he appeared to be living out of his van, said neighbors in West Babylon, where Penny briefly lived with his father.

“He would set up a bed in there,” said one resident, who asked not to be named, and noted the father and son seemed to have a strained relationship.

Penny dropped out of college to spend time backpacking through Central America, he wrote on Harri, a hospitality industry employment website, where he was aiming for a bartending gig in Manhattan.

“Growing up here in New York, I have always been inspired by the ambition and grit,” he wrote.

“After high school and unsure of my future, I enlisted in the Marine Corps in search of adventure, While serving as squad leader on two deployment, I began to realize what I was passionate about.”

Leaving school was “inspired by the novel Don Quixote,” he wrote.

“Don Quixote so inspired by adventure, he leaves his ‘normal’ life to pursue his dreams despite being called a madman. During the travels I rediscovered my love for interacting and connecting with people,” he continued.

“Being able to serve and connect with the most interesting and eccentric the world has to offer, is what I believe I am meant to do.”

Those who knew Penny as a youngster were shocked to see the turn his life has taken.

Barbara Harcourt met Penny in 2015, when the young lacrosse player earned an MVP award during the annual Dan Daly Cup competition in Uniondale, which honors Harcourt’s uncle.

“Oh my, good Lord,” she said, when told the man at the center of the political firestorm over Neely’s death was the same kid she helped recognize.

“I’m going to pray for him.”

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