A lawyer representing Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old Marine veteran who was charged in the New York City subway chokehold death of an erratic Black homeless man, insisted Monday in an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro that race did not play a factor in his client’s actions and that claims to the contrary are “not based on the facts.”
Steve Raiser’s comments to Pirro will air Monday on “The Five.” In a preview clip released by the show, Pirro asked Raiser to address critics who accuse Penny of having acted with racial motivations during the May 1 altercation.
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“Daniel has been called a murderer by some, a vigilante by others. Many claim he acted based on race. What do you say to those people?” Pirro asked.
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“None of that is based on the facts,” Raiser responded. “As to race, it’s simply not the motivation for Danny. He is the one that put himself in danger, to save who? All the people on that train. Black people, Brown people. White people, it didn’t matter to Danny. Danny put his life at risk to save all those people. It has nothing to do with race.”
Penny was charged with second-degree manslaughter Friday for fatally choking Jordan Neely, 30, on a New York City train in an incident caught on video. Prosecutors said Neely, who suffered from mental illness, had been “making threats and scaring passengers” when Penny dragged him to the floor and wrapped his arm around his neck to restrain him.
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Another attorney for Penny, Thomas Kenniff, argued that Penny acted to protect himself and other passengers who were being threatened.
Penny served four years in the Marines before he was honorably discharged and has been a “pillar of the community,” Kenniff told Judge Kevin McGrath. He was one week shy of graduating from college at the time of his indictment and has lived in the New York City area his entire life, his lawyer noted.
Many have rallied behind Penny, hailing him as a hero for protecting other passengers on the train. Donations have poured into his legal defense fund in the days since his arraignment, surpassing a staggering $2 million as of Monday afternoon.
Penny faces a maximum of five-to-15 years in prison if convicted. He turned himself in to police early Friday.
Fox News’ Rebecca Rosenberg and Marta Dhanis contributed to this report.
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