Daniel Penny disputes he held Jordan Neely in a chokehold for 15 minutes on NYC subway

Daniel Penny, the veteran charged with manslaughter in the death of a New York City subway rider, disputed an eyewitness account that he held Jordan Neely in a chokehold, and he defended himself in video statements recorded and released by his attorneys.

Penny, 24, a Marine veteran, defended his actions in the four clips shared Sunday. The May 1 interaction was partly captured on cellphone video, and Penny was seen on the ground holding Neely, 30, in a chokehold on a northbound F Train in New York City.

Neely, who was homeless, was a known subway busker who often performed as Michael Jackson.

Neely was unconscious when officers arrived at the Broadway and East Houston Street subway station, and he was pronounced dead at a hospital, New York police said. The city's medical examiner said he died from “compression of neck (chokehold)” and declared the manner as a homicide.

In his statements Sunday, Penny reiterated that he did not intend to choke Neely and that he was trying to restrain him. He also disputed the account of Juan Alberto Vazquez, who recorded the video and has said Penny held Neely in a chokehold position for about 15 minutes.

Jordan Neely dressed as Michael Jackson in New York (Andrew Savulich / New York Daily News/TNS via Getty Images file)
Jordan Neely dressed as Michael Jackson in New York (Andrew Savulich / New York Daily News/TNS via Getty Images file)

"Some people say that I was holding onto Mr. Neely for 15 minutes. This is not true," Penny said. "Between stops, it was only a couple of minutes, so the whole interaction, less than five minutes."

Vazquez's video does not show what happened before Neely was restrained. Vazquez told NBC New York that Neely entered the train and began to give a "somewhat aggressive speech."

Neely told passengers that "he was hungry, he was thirsty, that he didn’t care about anything, he didn’t care about going to jail, he didn’t care that he gets a big life sentence,” Vasquez said.

Penny accused Neely of uttering violent threats. He said he was fearful of Neely and "couldn't sit still" as he saw women and children being threatened.

"I was listening to music at the time, and he was yelling, so I took my headphones out to hear what he was yelling," Penny said in his video statement. "And the three main threats that he repeated over and over was 'I'm going to kill you,' 'I'm prepared to go to jail for life,' and 'I'm willing to die.'"

In the video statements, Penny also defended how he restrained Neely. He said that he adjusted his grip on Neely “based on the force that he’s exerting” and that Neely was breathing in the video.

“I was praying that the police would come and take this situation over,” he said. “I didn’t want to be put in that situation, but I couldn’t just sit still and let him carry out these threats.”

A lawyer for Neely's family did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neely's family has rejected accusations that he threatened physical violence.

"It is a character assassination and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan's life," the attorneys, Donte Mills and Lennon Edwards, said in a statement last month.

Penny also said the accusations that he, a white man, was motivated by race to harm Neely were ridiculous. He denied accusations that his decision to restrain Neely, a Black man, was racially motivated when he told the New York Post that he was "not a white supremacist."

"I didn’t see a Black man threatening passengers. I saw a man threatening passengers," Penny said Sunday.

Mills said at the time in a statement about Penny’s New York Post interview: "This is an advertisement to soften the public’s view of Daniel Penny who choked Jordan Neely to death. We never called him a white supremacist, we called him a killer.”

Penny was arrested last month and charged with second-degree manslaughter. Neely's family has said they believe the charge is too lenient and "should be for murder."

Neely's family has said he began struggling with mental illness at age 14 after the murder of his mother.

Christine Neely was killed in 2007, stuffed inside a suitcase and left on the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York, NJ.com reported.

Neely testified at the trial of his mother's boyfriend, Shawn Southerland, that he tried to say goodbye to his mother before school April 4, 2007. But Southerland refused to let him enter the bedroom, packed up and left, he said, according to NJ.com.

Southerland was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com