Why Was the Ex-Marine Who Killed Jordan Neely Not Arrested?
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Why Was the Ex-Marine Who Killed Jordan Neely Not Arrested?

A man goes into a subway, causes a disruption, then dies there at the hands of another passenger, who is let off scot free

Earlier this week, a New York City freelance journalist captured a death on the subway and posted it on his Facebook page, Luces de Nueva York. (Trigger warning: it's a tough watch.)

The video footage shows the final moments of the life of a 30-year-old Black man held in a choke hold by another subway passenger, who appears to be white. According to reports, including an interview with the father, the victim was a Michael Jackson impersonator named Jordan Neely.

The journalist, Juan Alberto Vasquez, told The New York Times (and presumably police) that the man who was killed entered the subway car and began yelling at passengers, saying things such as, "I don't have food, I don't have a drink, I'm fed up. I don't mind going to jail and getting life in prison. I'm ready to die."

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An unnamed 24-year-old veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, who is seen in the aforementioned video and was later released by police, restrained the 30-year-old on a northbound F train Monday afternoon. The video shows the man being held down for two minutes before he lost consciousness and almost a full minute after.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover Neely's funeral expenses.

The video is horrible and so is the incident, obviously. It calls into question the optics of a white man choking a Black man to death in front of a subway car of witnesses at a moment when New York has been seeing a rise in subway ridership and a drop in crime rates as more police have been patrolling the metro system.

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The Root had no problem calling out the racial element as well as questioning Vasquez's decision to film the incident instead of intervening. With police not present when the incident happened, are we giving a pass to citizens to take matters into their own hands, without any training in how to handle a volatile situation with someone who may be dealing with mental health issues?

As reported by the New York Times, the killer has not been charged and was released afterward. Would he have been taken into custody if he were Black? An investigation is ongoing; here's to hoping we get some answers to these and lots of other questions this tragedy deserved to have answered.