A Catholic View of the Jordan Neely Tragedy

RJ Carr
5 min readMay 5

The recent homicide of Jordan Neely is a tragedy needing serious investigation. It does not need politicization.

The story centers around a thirty-year-old man in severe distress on the F-line of the New York City subway system. He was acting as what a videographer described to the New York Post unhinged seeking food and drink and so desperate he did not care if he went to jail. The New York Intelligencer reported that Neely threw garbage at fellow passengers. There was no indication at this time that he attempted to rob anyone.

According to published reports, a former marine tried to restrain him using a chokehold. The medical examiner indicated he died due to the neck compression. A chokehold compresses the carotid artery cutting off blood and, therefore, oxygen to the brain which causes the restrained to pass out. Releasing the chokehold opens up the artery and the person generally recovers.

Published reports indicate he was in the chokehold for fifteen minutes. Chokeholds, although once commonly deployed in various police departments are now illegal in most if not all.

When I was in San Diego in the 1970s and 1980s, I witnessed, from a city bus, a team of San Diego Police Officers administering a chokehold to a suspect on a street corner. One officer had his arm around the man’s neck, the other was watching casually while chewing gum. Finally, the restrained just passed out and collapsed to the ground when the officer released the restraint.

Often in these cases, many journalistic reports focus on a person’s criminal offender record and detail his history of arrests and convictions. These actually do not give a full understanding of the person. However, consumers of news can often be led to dismiss the deceased simply as a convict. Some reports dismiss those who die in similar circumstances as “thugs”. Any writer would tell you that this is a flat caricature-a failure in writing. No one can be summed up in a four-letter pejorative much less one that is so undefined.

As Catholics, we have a call to look beyond the labels and look at everyone as a child of God. This means we need to dig deeper than a rap sheet.

According to published reports, including in the New York Post, Jordan Neely loved to…

RJ Carr