The legal defense fund for Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran who put homeless man Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold earlier this month, has raised nearly $2 million.
The fundraiser, which was posted on Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo by Penny’s law firm Raiser & Kenniff P.C., exceeded $1.8 million as of Sunday evening. Last week, Penny was charged with second-degree manslaughter over the May 1 altercation on a New York City subway train.
Penny’s lawyers previously told Fox News Digital that the 24-year-old veteran, who was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday, is thankful for the support.
“The outpouring of generosity and support for Daniel Penny, is beyond anything we could have imagined,” Kenniff said to Fox News Digital. “Daniel is incredibly grateful for the support of so many New Yorkers.”
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The fundraiser’s description says that donations will cover Penny’s legal fees, including any future civil lawsuits that may occur. Any excess funds will be donated to charity.
“Any proceeds collected which exceed those necessary to cover Mr. Penny’s legal defense will be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City,” the fundraiser states.
Authorities are still investigating to what extent Neely, 30, harassed or threatened the F train passengers before he died. One rider attested that Neely, who suffered from mental illness and had a criminal record, was behaving erratically and talking about killing someone.
“He said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll take a bullet, I’ll go to jail’ because he would kill people on the train,” a 66-year-old woman told the New York Post. “He said, ‘I would kill a motherf—er. I don’t care. I’ll take a bullet. I’ll go to jail.’”
But Juan Alberto Vazquez, the freelance journalist who filmed the incident, maintained that Neely did not physically attack any commuters.
“He said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail,” Vasquez described. “He started screaming all these things, took off his jacket, a black jacket that he had and threw it on the ground.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of Penny’s most high-profile supporters, encouraged his Twitter followers to donate to Raiser & Kenniff’s fundraiser.
“We stand with Good Samaritans like Daniel Penny. Let’s show this Marine… America’s got his back,” DeSantis wrote.
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Penny’s lawyers maintained that their client intervened to protect train passengers.
“When Mr. Penny, a decorated Marine veteran, stepped in to protect himself and his fellow New Yorkers, his well-being was not assured,” Penny’s attorney Steve Raiser stated. “He risked his own life and safety, for the good of his fellow passengers. The unfortunate result was the unintended and unforeseen death of Mr. Neely. We are confident that once all the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic incident are brought to bear, Mr. Penny will be fully absolved of any wrongdoing.”
Neely’s family’s lawyers blasted the statement by Penny’s attorneys, calling it a “character assassination.”
“In the first paragraph he talks about how ‘good’ he is and the next paragraph he talks about how ‘bad’ Jordan was in an effort to convince us Jordan’s life was ‘worthless,’” Neely family attorneys Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards said. “The truth is, he knew nothing about Jordan’s history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan’s neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing.”
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Penny is due back to court in July and faces a maximum of 15 years in jail if convicted.
Fox News’ Rebecca Rosenberg and Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.