Honestly, I wasn’t going to write about this. I was going to write a post about the obvious fix that is needed to make the JFK Airtrain functional. But it’s insane now to write a post about first-world-problems — getting to and from the airport — while vigilantes are murdering homeless people on the trains.
So short and simple and with some links:
I challenge anyone reading eyewitness reports of what happened on the train and looking at the photo of the chokehold to say that Neely wasn’t murdered. I’m not saying it was first degree murder, but the chokehold was wreckless, and any REASONABLE PERSON would know that. I say this as someone who is now often frightened on mass transit. The mass shooting in Brooklyn, and the more recent shooting of a single passenger — a man on his way to meet his brother for brunch — are terrifying. Deaths caused by people pushed onto trains are terrifying. But you don’t react to fear by pouncing on an emotionally disturbed person with no gun, no knife, making no threat because he throws down a jacket, and then putting him a CHOKEHOLD which a reasonable person would know is deadly force. In photos it’s clear the marine was bigger than him and could have subdued him — not his job — without deadly force. Whatever his intent was, he was wreckless, and of course he should be charged.
Updating to add: Just found this, a statement by the alleged murderer’s lawyer: “Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death,” the law firm of Raiser and Kenniff, P.C. said in a statement. “We hope that out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways.”
Again, Man A puts man in a chokehold. Man B in chokehold passes out. Man A continues to choke him. A reasonable person would have foreseen the victim’s “untimely death.” And yes, NYC prosecutors if you don’t overcharge, you will find a jury willing to convict on the evidence, and convicting a murderer is your job. Doing your job won’t cost you the election.
Updated to add: Caught a NYTimes article contrasting the lives of the victim and his assailant. The mental health system (and other systems) failed Jordan Neely before his murder, but some of the failure wasn’t due to money or a need for “stronger” involuntary commitment laws. Some of the failure was simply the failure to track humans within the mental health and law enforcement system. There was a warrant for his arrest because he had left a program that he’d agreed to in court because of charges against him. He could have and should have been arrested and sent back to that program instead of simply being thrown out of the subway by cops — who didn’t check for warrants — weeks before. Why didn’t the police check for warrants?
That failure will be exploited by his killer’s defense team (if he’s ever charged) — as it should be because that is the defense team’s job. Ultimately, that failure didn’t cause Neely’s death, but it is an example of one of many things that could have prevented the encounter from ever happening.
While I don’t think it is the job of NYPD to be psychiatrists or mental health workers, it is certainly their job when called in by mental health workers to CHECK FOR OUTSTANDING WARRANTS.