FILE PHOTO - An empty subway car is seen during the morning rush, following the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York


  • Witness Juan Alberto Vasquez said Jordan Neely yelled inside the subway train
  • Other train passengers panicked when Neely raised and threw his jacket on the floor
  • Vasquez believes Daniel Penny "went too far" on restraining Neely

A freelance journalist who filmed the fatal chokehold on a New York subway last month has revealed what transpired during the incident.

In an interview with New York Magazine's Curbed, Juan Alberto Vasquez said he saw a man running toward the train doors, later identified as homeless street artist Jordan Neely.

The witness said the victim stopped the train doors from closing by sticking his hand before he got to the train. Afterward, Neely stood in the middle of the train car and began "yelling that he didn't have food, that he didn't have water."

"From what I understood, he was yelling that he was tired, that he didn't care about going to jail," Vasquez said.

Vasquez said he tried to film at that moment, but the train was too crowded. He heard Neely taking off his jacket and throwing it on the train floor "very violently."

"At that moment, when he threw the jacket, the people who were sitting around him stood up and moved away," the freelance journalist said.

Vasquez said he noticed a man came up behind Neely and grabbed his neck. Both men fell and stayed on the floor for 30 seconds.

Everyone on the train rushed out when the two doors opened "because now there was an actual fight," according to the witness.

Vasquez watched Neely, the man grabbing him, later identified as marine veteran Daniel Penny, and another man trying to hold the victim down.

He heard several people yelling to contact the police while others approached Penny, who also told them to call the police.

Vasquez said the conductor was unsure of what was happening at that time as people who stood between the doors urged him not to close the doors. The conductor later said over the speaker, "Police, police," but no officers were on the scene.

He began filming the incident through the subway car window while those involved were lying on the floor.

"When Jordan tried to escape again, they rolled over, and I could see his face and his attempts to escape," Vasquez said.

"Then he wasn't moving anymore, and we were all looking at each other, like, 'What's going on? Did he faint? What happened?'" he added.

The witness said he got off the train and filmed another 30-second video where Neely could be seen lying down while two men stood over him.

Vasquez noted that the second man who approached Neely "never tries to restrain him" as he listened to the victim and told Penny "not to squeeze him so hard."

When asked why the situation inside the train escalated, Vasquez said the incident began when people panicked after Neely raised and threw his jacket on the floor.

Vasquez believes Penny "went too far," as well as the police officers for not arriving on time.

On Wednesday, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Penny on second-degree manslaughter charges, a source familiar with the case told CNN.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is expected to formally announce Penny's indictment, which is currently sealed, on Thursday.

Last month, the Marine veteran surrendered to the police and has since been out on a $100,000 bond.

Penny told The New York Post that he was "deeply saddened by the loss of life" while insisting that Neely's death had nothing to do with race.

Former U.S. Marine Daniel Penny surrenders to the NYPD for the death of Jordan Neely in New York City