Kid Rock a big donor to legal defense of man who put Jordan Neely in lethal chokehold

Left: Daniel Penny, center, is walked by New York Police Department detectives detectives out of the 5th Precinct on Friday, May. 12, 2023 in New York. Manhattan prosecutors announced Thursday they would bring the criminal charge against Penny, 24, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, in the May 1 death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon) Center: Jordan Neely is pictured before going to see the Michael Jackson movie, "This is It," outside the Regal Cinemas on 8th Ave. and 42nd St. in Times Square, New York, in 2009. (Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) Right: Musician Kid Rock listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for the "Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act," in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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Kid Rock donated $5,000 to the legal defense fund for Daniel Penny, the Marine veteran who was charged with second-degree manslaughter after putting Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a Manhattan subway early this month.

Protests erupted after police initially let Penny go. The veteran, 24, surrendered to police on May 12, was charged and is out on bond. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

“Mr. Penny is a hero,” Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, wrote alongside his donation. “Alvin Bragg is a POS — Kid Rock.” His pledge put him among the fund's top donors.

The campaign on Christian crowdsourcing site GiveSendGo surpassed $2.3 million late Monday afternoon. The law firm Raiser & Kenniff, P.C., which is representing Penny, launched the fundraiser last week.

Penny has been hailed a hero by conservatives after video surfaced of him placing Neely in a lethal submission hold on the floor of the F Train on May 1. Witnesses said that before Penny responded, Neely was yelling, “I don’t have food, I don’t have anything to drink, I’m fed up.” Apparently having a mental health episode, he continued, “I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison, I’m ready to die.”

Joining Kid Rock were political commentator and podcaster Tim Pool, who gave $20,000 in support of Penny, and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who donated $10,000. The GiveSendGo campaign states that “any proceeds collected which exceed those necessary to cover Mr. Penny’s legal defense will be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City.”

GiveSendGo also hosted campaigns for some of the Jan. 6. defendants and for Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of all charges after shooting three men — two fatally — during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wis.

Neely was a 30-year-old local unhoused man known in the area as a busker and Michael Jackson impersonator who moon-walked through the subway.

Neely was arrested on numerous occasions and reported to social services more than 40 times, and although he’d entered multiple care situations, he also disappeared from them, hindering treatment. At the time of his death there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest related to a felony assault case; according to the New York Times, Neely had been arrested four times on charges of punching people, two of them on the subway.

Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement that Penny’s arrest came after the completion of witness interviews, a review of photos and footage from the incident, and input from the medical examiner’s office, which ruled Neely’s death a homicide.

“Jordan Neely should still be alive today, and my thoughts continue to be with his family and loved ones as they mourn his loss,” Bragg said.

In 2007, when Neely was 14, his mother was murdered by her boyfriend, and his family told CNN that he had suffered from mental health issues since finding her body stuffed into a suitcase. He was placed in the foster care system after his mother’s murder. Neely reportedly was also on New York City’s list of 50 homeless people with the most acute needs.

Neely’s family is arranging the funeral, which will be held Friday at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in New York City's Harlem neighborhood.

Carolyn Neely launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for her nephew’s service, writing, “I love my nephew Jordan Neely, he was a very talented [B]lack man who loves to dance. Performance was his thing. His mother is Christie Neely and she was murdered in April 2007. It’s been rough for him and all of us. We just want justice for him, please give what you can with your heart. He has so many fans, he will always be loved and remembered. We love you Jordan.”

As of Monday afternoon, the fundraiser for Neely had raised more than $130,000.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.