The northbound F train in NYC is oftentimes the main line for some of the most entertaining creatures that the city can come up with. From drug abuse to fetal alcohol syndrome, the reasons behind these people crying out for mental health help are incredibly numerous. Yet the city has turned a blind eye to the problem over the years as it grows exponentially.
30-year-old Jordan Neely not only has a history of mental health issues but has also been homeless according to records. Standing in the subway car, reports indicate that the man started giving a speech. Filled with aggression and signs of getting ready to commit violence, people were alarmed.
Speaking with the New York Post on May 2nd in Spanish, freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez detailed the aggressive speech. “He said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail. He started screaming all these things, took off his jacket, a black jacket that he had, and threw it on the ground.”
It was at that point where a man holding the standing strap – a reported USMC Vet, decided enough was enough. Placing the man in a rear naked choke, he held the man tightly there until the train reached its next stop. For 15 minutes or so, the man was held as the unidentified Marine and another passenger kept him contained.
Upon reaching the Broadway-Lafayette Street/Bleeker Street station, medics were waiting as the conductor had already rung 911. With EMS workers unable to revive Neely, police took the Marine into custody. Released with no charges being filed, the police are awaiting his autopsy to determine if charges would be appropriate or not. When reached by the Post he declined comment.
Vazquez claimed that Neely had initially boarded the car at the Second Avenue station, and started screaming and intimidating riders, forcing many to move away from him. When he was taken to the ground, he was flailing his legs and arms trying to escape his grasp. However, that USMC training kept him subdued, and eventually he simply stopped moving.
Seeing him go limp made many others on the train start to speak up. Upon hearing this, the other identified man who had been helping told them the Marine had stopped squeezing. According to Vazquez “None of us who were there thought he was in danger of dying. We thought he just passed out or ran out of air.”
Images that have been published show the veteran and another man had turned Neely onto his side and were attempting to ensure he was safe and not harmed. While 15 minutes is a long time to be held in any chokehold, this was someone who was clearly not in a normal state of mind, so his resistance may have helped him struggle longer. This surge of adrenaline would have also made him less susceptible to react appropriately to stay alive.
For what it’s worth, Vazquez is one of the few in NYC who thinks this could have been prevented with a faster police response. Yet given the complexity of stocking more officers along the subway, it’s not likely they could have even gotten down the train in time, and since the platform stops are far apart, it’s not like there were other options for getting Neely off the train.
His response is interesting, as over the last few years more and more Americans are against the expansion of police departments or training methods. It’s also that mentality that took the nation to where it is now. Vazquez’s decision to support their expansion in the name of helping people like Neely is the way all of NYC should feel, but they don’t. Instead, we have to be thankful for people like this Marine. Without him, we could likely be looking at a far more destructive narrative.