Needless Jordan Neely Narratives

3 min readMay 19, 2023
Photo by Natalia Y. on Unsplash

In public discourse, there are two forms of narrative. The standard narrative is a detailed account of an incident; the viewpoint narrative presents a situation in a way that promotes a political position.

The public first learned that a mentally ill homeless black man named Jordan Neely died on a New York subway train after Daniel Penny, a white military veteran, restrained him through the account of Juan Alberto Vázquez, who witnessed the incident.

Vázquez told police that after Neely boarded the subway train, Neely started yelling that he didn’t have food or water and didn’t care about going to jail. Needly didn’t ask anyone for anything but acted in a violent manner, at one point slamming his jacket. The people around Neely were scared and moved away from him as Neely kept yelling.

Then Penny came up behind Neely, grabbed him by the neck, and forced Neely to the floor.

Thirty seconds later, the train reached a stop, and passengers rushed off the train. Vázquez told the conductor to stop the train, while Penny told bystanders to call the police. By this time, two other men had assisted Penny, while Vázquez began to record the incident.

The recording of Neely in a chokehold is nearly four minutes long.




J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.