The video of a homeless man being suffocated to death on a New York City train lasted four minutes.
What happened may seem obvious to the layman watching the footage.
A homeless man, Jordan Neely, finds himself writhing, trying to free himself from the arms and legs of other subway riders who are pulling him back. As the minutes ticked by Monday afternoon on a northbound F train in Manhattan, Mr. Neely visibly weakened as the hand around his neck tightened.
After he stops moving, the Raiders hold him down for another 50 seconds. He was later declared dead at a nearby hospital.
But Mr. Neely’s attacker has not been arrested or charged, raising questions about how such cases are handled by New York’s legal system and many left-leaning politicians and activists calling the process racist. They have asked why the subway driver, who appeared to be white, was not taken into custody and argued that he would have been if he had been black.
Law enforcement officials say the specific sequence of events and applicable laws make any potential criminal case more complicated than the video suggests.
A black Mr. Neely was yelling at the passengers, and the other rider held him in a chokehold for several minutes, until he finally broke free. A spokesman for the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide Wednesday, saying she died of compression of the neck as a result of asphyxiation. (That ruling meant that the other passenger killed Mr. Neely, but it did not find him legally guilty.)
On Thursday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Mr. He called the video of Neely’s death “horrific” and said “there must be consequences.”
After an unrelated incident in Manhattan, Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, said: “It became very clear that he was not going to harm these people. “I would say the video of the three people holding him to his last breath was a very serious response.”
An unidentified ex-marine, Mr. The person who choked Neely is represented by the Manhattan law firm Riser and Keniff.
Thomas Keniff, a Republican candidate for Manhattan district attorney in 2021, said the agency had contacted the district attorney’s office and the police department about the incident, but had no further comment.
The rider who choked Mr Neely was interviewed by police and released, and a person familiar with the matter said authorities did not see the rider as a flight risk.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. If Bragg is accused of using chokehold, Mr. He would argue that the force he used against Neely was justified. Mr. Prosecutors must prove that Neely also used deadly force without believing he was using it or was about to use it.
To show those things in court, prosecutors must have interviewed each of the many witnesses to the encounter to make sure none of them would say something that would hurt the prosecutors’ case. Prosecutors generally do not bring cases unless they believe they can win the case.
New York law imposes several deadlines once prosecutors have charged someone with a crime. New York law requires a defendant in custody charged with a felony to be released within a strict time limit if the district attorney wins a grand jury indictment and warns the court of the charge, or if the defendant agrees to delay. .
A second time limit comes into effect after an indictment, directing the amount of time prosecutors have to gather case materials, share them with defense attorneys, and say they’re ready to begin a trial. If they do not meet their deadlines, or if the court finds that case material is missing, the case may be dismissed for violating the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office said it was still looking into various factors.
“As part of our rigorous investigation, we will review the medical examiner’s report, evaluate all available video and photographic evidence, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible and obtain additional medical records,” said Doug Cohen, a spokesman for the office. In a statement.
A Mr. Press release on Neely’s murder On Thursday, police asked for the public’s help in identifying witnesses they could interview. Prosecutors have also encouraged witnesses to come forward.
In the video, the other two riders are Mr. Neely can be seen helping to pull him down, while the former Marine wraps his arms around his neck. Other passengers watched.
The responses of subway car occupants and law enforcement officials sparked outrage among some New Yorkers over the death of a black man at the hands of a man who appeared to be white.
“Our legal system’s initial response to this killing is troubling and demonstrates to the world the double standard that black people and people of color continue to face,” City Council Speaker Adrian Adams said in a statement.
Mayor Eric Adams Mr. He called Neely’s death “tragic” but urged patience as authorities complete their investigation. “There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here,” he said earlier in the week.
When allegations are made hastily without a thorough investigation, they can be second-guessed.
In another case from July, the Manhattan district attorney’s office was forced to drop murder charges against a bodega clerk in Harlem who stabbed an assailant to death in his store. The clerk, Jose Alba, 61, initially said Mr. Bragg’s office charged him with second-degree murder.
Mr. Alba had an argument with Austin Simon, 35, the girlfriend of the man he killed, over paying for snacks for his 10-year-old daughter. Mr. Simon went behind the counter of the bodega and pushed Mr. Alpha.
As public pressure increased against the district collector’s office, Mr. The allegations against Alpha were criticized in some news outlets. Mr. Mr. Adams Alpha expressed support, saying New Yorkers shouldn’t fear being attacked in their workplace. “There’s a line to be drawn when you’re the primary aggressor, and that’s what I saw in the video,” he said.
Both the Adams and Hochul administrations have used different tactics to reduce crime and reduce the number of mentally ill and homeless people living on New York’s streets.
The mayor increased the number of police officers on subway platforms, instructed mental health professionals and police to take more people in mental health crisis to hospitals — against their will if necessary — and continued to demolish homeless encampments. But the mayor and governor have proposed softer strategies, including expanding teams of counselors who serve the mentally ill on the streets and in shelters.
Freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vasquez, who shot the video inside a subway car, said Mr. Neely said she was screaming that she was hungry and thirsty. “I don’t mind going to jail and living in jail,” said Mr. Vasquez recalled him saying. “‘I am ready to die.
Two weeks ago Mr. Another rider who met Neely said he seemed upset but calmed down when she handed him a few dollars. He said he was grateful for “five minutes.”
Nicholas Fantos Contributed report.