Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman rallied across from Manhattan Criminal Court last week in support of a Marine Corps veteran arrested and charged with fatally choking a homeless man on the subway.
Suffolk County resident Daniel Penny, 24, was charged with manslaughter after allegedly putting Jordan Neely in a chokehold and killing him on May 1, according to police. Blakeman, who attended the Manhattan rally Wednesday, spoke at a lectern featuring the Nassau County shield and said Penny should not be prosecuted for his actions.
“While the death of Jordan Neely is an unfortunate tragedy, Marine Daniel Penny shouldn’t face charges for trying to help his fellow New Yorkers before they turned into another subway assault statistic,” Blakeman said. “We know Jordan Neely was having mental health issues. If Neely had been kept in jail on more of his 42 charges, he may have been able to get the help he needed.”
Penny was captured on video holding Neely in a chokehold for several minutes, which included time after the homeless man stopped moving. Blakeman described Penny as “a good Samaritan.”
Dozens of veterans shuttled in stood behind Blakeman and in support of Penny, while at least one person in the audience dubbing the county executive a racist, according to Newsday. Blakeman, in a statement, also criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and called for him to be removed from his post.
Blakeman said Bragg “is trying to railroad a Marine who was just trying to keep other passengers safe” and expressed his concern about Nassau’s thousands of residents who travel into New York City every day.
“Every day tens of thousands of Nassau County residents commute to New York City to do jobs, explore entertainment, go to cultural sites, to enjoy everything that Manhattan has to offer,” he said. “But I’m worried about them. I’m worried about our Nassau County residents.”
Democratic Legislator Josh Lafazan, in a statement, called for the Legislature’s Budget Review team to analyze the costs of Blakeman’s event last week.
“If Nassau officials appear at any event outside the county, why in the world would our taxpayers be asked to foot the bill?,” Lafazan said in a statement. “At a time when expenses for Nassau residents continue to rise, our county should be laser focused on reducing expenses. The first place to start? Barring politicians from wasting taxpayer dollars on campaign events.”
Blakeman has been a critic of Bragg in the past, bashing the district attorney for “playing politics” when it came to the indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump. Blakeman, in April, called the indictment “political and malicious prosecution,” lashing out at Bragg.
“I’m not surprised,” Blakeman said about the indictment outside the Nassau County Police Headquarters in April. “Alvin Bragg has a political agenda.”
Blakeman said that if he were to rush an indictment of a political enemy to Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly, she would “throw me out of her office.”
“I would assume that most district attorneys would do the same thing,” Blakeman said. “They’re not supposed to make decisions based on politics. It’s supposed to be on the law and in this circumstance, every legal scholar that I’ve seen on every media outlet has said pretty much that it’s novel, it’s new and it’s unprecedented.”