Over $1.9 million has been raised for the former marine who put Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a New York subway before the homeless man died.
Neely, 30, was pronounced dead on May 1 after he was held in a chokehold for 15 minutes, allegedly by 24-year-old Daniel Penny.
The former Michael Jackson impersonator had caused some unrest on the F train before Penny, assisted by others, intervened.
Video of the incident on the F train went viral and sparked outrage and protests across New York. Neely’s death was ruled a homicide.
Penny, a college student, was initially interviewed by police and then let go, before turning himself in to police and being charged with manslaughter in the second degree on Friday.
Days earlier, Penny’s lawyer released a statement saying he had acted in self-defence and had “never intended to harm” Neely.
Lawyer Thomas Kenniff said Penny “could not have foreseen (Neely’s) untimely death” and that he only intended to restrain Neely.
Following Penny’s arrest and subsequent bail being set at $100,000, a GiveSendGo page was set up to support him.
As of 8am Monday, $1,919,278 had been donated.
The page says the funds will be used to cover Penny’s legal fees “as well as expenses related to his defence”.
Any proceeds collected “which exceed those necessary to cover Penny’s legal defence” will be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City, the page states.
Penny’s lawyer, in his earlier statement, called on elected officials to address the “mental health crisis on our streets on subways”.
According to a report by the The New York Post, Neely’s mental health deteriorated after his mother was reportedly strangled to death and stuffed into a suitcase when he was 14.
His aunt, Carolyn Neely, said that this caused the teenager to descend into a “complete mess”, and that he didn’t get the appropriate help for his mental health struggles.
Carolyn told the outlet: “My sister Christie was murdered in ’07 and after that, he has never been the same […] It had a big impact on him. He developed depression and it grew and became more serious. He was schizophrenic, PTSD. Doctors knew his condition and he needed to be treated for that. The whole system just failed him. He fell through the cracks of the system.”
A GoFundMe page set up by Carolyn Neely has so far raised $122,710.
According to journalist Juan Alberto Vázquez, Neely was allegedly yelling on an F train in Manhattan before he was restrained by Penny.
Neely lost consciousness before he was later pronounced dead.
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