‘He Did Not Seem to Want to Attack Anyone’:  Shocking Video of Homeless Man Held In Fatal Chokehold By White Subway Rider Spurs Outrage Over the Treatment of Mentally-Ill and Black People

The death of a man in New York who was placed in a 15-minute-long chokehold on a subway train is sparking outrage online and inciting calls for more considerate and competent responses to those who are homeless and suffering from mental illnesses.

Video posted on Facebook by freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez shows the horrific incident that happened Monday afternoon on a Manhattan train. The New York Post identified the man who died as 30-year-old Jordan Neely, a known subway performer and Michael Jackson impersonator.

Jordan Neely surrounded and held in fatal chokehold on a New York subway car this week. (Photos: Facebook/Luces de Nueva York)

Vazquez stated that a passenger placed Neely in a chokehold for 15 minutes, two of which were caught on video. In the video, Neely is seen struggling against a blond subway rider whose arm is firmly around Neely’s neck while two other men are restraining Neely’s arms and shoulders.

After about two minutes, Neely goes still, and the passenger releases him. Another man moves Neely around and raises his arms, appearing to check if he is conscious, but Neely remains motionless on the floor.


While Neely is unconscious on the ground, a bystander is heard in the background saying, “He’ll be all right. He ain’t gonna die.”

Witnesses report that Neely entered the subway car acting erratically toward other passengers.

Vazquez stated that when Neely started yelling, “I don’t have food, I don’t have to drink, I’m fed up…I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison.. I’m ready to die,” before removing a jacket and throwing it on the floor. Vazquez stated that while Neely seemed to be disturbed, “he did not seem to want to attack anyone.”

Neely never did physically assault anyone, but while he was yelling another passenger approached him, grabbed him by the neck, and forced him to the ground.

According to a police report obtained by The New York Times, police responded to reports of a fight that had broken out just before 2:30 p.m. Monday on a northbound F train. When they arrived at the scene, they found Neely unconscious, and paramedics took him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police did take the passenger who put Neely in a chokehold into custody. They questioned him, then released him without filing charges. Police have not released his name, but they say the investigation is ongoing.

Many people online are calling for a more just police response, stating that the reaction to Neely’s behavior went overboard and should not have ended in his death. Comments on social media state that these kinds of extreme reactions to people having mentally ill episodes are way too prevalent. Protests have also erupted in the city.


“The lynching of Jordan Neely is what happens when you blame every violent thing that happens in this country on mental illness because while it excuses violent behavior from white people, it criminalizes mental illness in Black people,” wrote Twitter user @Imani_Barbarin. “The man who choked him to death as he was having a mental health crisis isn’t the only one responsible. You all are too.”

Twitter user @jessrayerogers also comments, “Jordan Neely needed mutual aid and to be treated with empathy. Instead he was murdered by a former Marine in broad daylight as people either assisted in his murder or sat back allowing it to happen. This is America.”

People are also decrying media coverage that mentions Neely’s numerous arrests and charges over the years, deeming them as irrelevant and disrespectful in light of his death. This kind of coverage is regarded as commonplace with crime stories involving Black individuals, whether they are the victims or the alleged offenders.

A similar incident happened in California just one year prior. Anthony McGaff, 28, died on April 30, 2022, after being held in a chokehold by a 55-year-old man on a bus ride in downtown San Diego, according to CBS 8.

Police say McGaff got into an altercation with a woman on the bus who began filming him without permission. He asked her to stop, but the woman refused and continued recording him. He then slapped the woman’s phone out of her hand, but she pulled out another phone and continued filming.

When McGaff tried to grab the second phone, 55-year-old Edward Hilbert intervened and placed him in a chokehold. Police said that Hilbert restrained McGaff for several minutes before McGaff fell unconscious and went into medical distress. He later died at the hospital.

In subsequent news reports, Hilbert was deemed a “hero” and a “good Samaritan” for attempting to protect a woman. Police charged him with involuntary manslaughter.

Afterward, McGaff’s family sued the Metropolitan Transit System, saying that the transportation system should have security measures in place to prevent these kinds of incidents from escalating. They also say the bus driver should have stopped the bus to intervene, but by the time the bus pulled over — more than eight minutes after Hilbert started strangling McGaff — McGaff was already unresponsive and not breathing.

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