Man killed in subway chokehold was a 'talented' Michael Jackson impersonator
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@rafaelshimunov/Juan Vazquez / Carolyn Neely
The man who was killed after being put in a chokehold on a New York subway was a 'talented' Michael Jackson impersonator.
Jordan Neely was a 30-year-old man whose life ended while he travelling on a northbound F train just before 2:30pm on Monday (1 May).
During his lifetime, Neely was known to New York commuters for impersonating the King of Pop as early as 2009, the same year Michael Jackson died.
Neely is said to have struggled with his mental health over the years, according to friends and family. He was experiencing homelessness at the time of his death and struggled to come to terms with the murder of his mother by her abusive boyfriend when he was 14 years old in 2007.
Speaking to Gothamist, Larry Malcolm Smith Jr. said he met Neely a decade ago in foster care and considered him a big brother.
“They was a good guy,” Smith said. “He would be in the New York City train using his God-gifted ability and talent.”
Neely’s friend continued: “I just want people to know the positives. Jordan could have been housed by nobody cares.”
Melyssa Votta, a tattoo artist in Canarsie, Brooklyn said she met Neely in high school when he dated her friend.
“He was really such a sweet kid, he just had bad time,” she said.
Neely dreamed of becoming a performer. “He had this dream of being the dancer that he was,” she said. “He made it happen.”
A passenger - who has not been named publicly - placed Neely in a chokehold and he lost consciousness. EMS workers at Broadway-Lafayette Street/Bleeker Street station were unable to revive Neely and he died at the scene.
The passenger, a 24-year-old man, was taken into custody and released without charges.
Another passenger, Juan Alberto Vazquez, filmed the killing and shared the footage on social media which has led to a public outcry and protests. Speaking to the New York Post, he said: “He started screaming in an aggressive manner,” Vazquez said. “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.”
In the video clip, Neely can be seen flailing his arms and legs in an effort to free himself as the man keeps him in the chokehold and another bystander helps to hold him down on the floor of the train.
“He moved his arms but he couldn’t express anything,” Vazquez recalled. “All he could do was move arms.
“Then suddenly he just stopped moving,” Vasquez recalled. “He was out of strength.”
Following an investigation, a medical examiner determined Neely's cause of death was a homicide as a result of the compression on his neck.
Police questioned the 24-year-old man involved in the altercation, who claimed he stepped in to help fellow passengers. Other people on the train at the time have corroborated his story, telling police that the man asked passengers to call 911 while he held Neely.