New York City keeps a "Top 50" list of homeless people in urgent need. Jordan Neely was on the list.

·3 min read
Police officers watch as protesters gather in the Broadway-Lafayette subway station to protest the death of Jordan Neely, Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in New York.
Police officers watch as protesters gather in the Broadway-Lafayette subway station to protest the death of Jordan Neely on May 3 in New York.Jake Offenhartz/AP
  • Jordan Neely was on a "Top 50" list maintained by NYC outreach workers, The New York Times reported.

  • It means workers identified Neely as someone who was homeless and in need of urgent assistance.

  • Neely died at the hands of Daniel Penny, an ex-Marine who put Neely in a chokehold on the subway.

Jordan Neely, the 30-year-old homeless man killed on a New York City subway by a fellow passenger last week, had a history fraught with personal loss and struggle, according to outreach workers who tried to help him over the years.

Neely's mother was brutally murdered when he was young, and he later fought drug addiction. Police have arrested Neely multiple times over the years, and he was on a "Top 50" list maintained by New York City outreach workers who help the city's homeless, The New York Times reported.

His presence on the list meant he was considered to be in urgent need of assistance, the Times reported. He was taken to the hospital on several occasions, both voluntarily and involuntarily, and he used K2, an often-abused strain of synthetic marijuana, outreach workers told the Times.

In the summer of 2019, an outreach worker noted that Neely had lost a significant amount of weight and would sleep upright, the Times reported. His behavior had become erratic. One worker said he threatened to kill a subway booth agent but disappeared before help arrived.

Neely had more than three dozen arrests, many of which were for trespassing or subway fare evasion. But at least four arrests came after he was accused of punching people. Two such instances were in the subway system, according to the Times.

Witnesses to Neely's death on May 1 said though he was yelling, he hadn't assaulted anyone in the subway car, the Times previously reported.

Neely died after 24-year-old Daniel Penny, an ex-Marine, put him in a chokehold – a maneuver that can be deadly and is prohibited among New York City police officers. Penny's attorneys said in a statement that Neely was "aggressively threatening" Penny and other passengers. The attorneys added that Penny "never intended" to cause any harm.

Penny has not been arrested and has yet to face any criminal charges. Meanwhile, Neely's death has sparked protests in the city.

Before he was on the most-watched list among outreach workers, Neely was known around town for his Michael Jackson impersonation, something he leaned into after the death of his mother when he was only 14, according to the Times.

Neely lived with his mother until she disappeared in 2007. Her body was found strangled and hidden in a suitcase in the Bronx, and her boyfriend was charged with murder, according to the Times. At the subsequent trial, Neely said his mother and her boyfriend had a "crazy" relationship with a "fight every day," the Times reported.

After his mother's death, Neely dropped out of his Manhattan high school and began performing in costume as the King of Pop on the subway.

"Everyone called him Michael Jackson," Wilson Leon, a former classmate, told the Times. "The Michael Jackson of Washington Irving."

Read the original article on Insider