Outrage grew over the deadly encounter after disturbing footage emerged showing the vigilante holding Neely in a headlock as another rider helped pin the man down on the train floor.
By Craig McCarthy and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office confirmed Wednesday it was investigating the death of a disturbed homeless man placed in a chokehold by a straphanger on a train this week.
Prosecutors’ probe includes whether to pursue charges against the passenger, who stepped in when Jordan Neely, 30, went on an aggressive rant on an F train in lower Manhattan Monday afternoon, according to authorities and witnesses.
“We have an ongoing investigation,” a spokesman for DA Alvin Bragg said.
Prosecutors can opt to present the case to a grand jury and let them decide if charges should be filed against the wannabe vigilante.
The straphanger, who sources said is a 24-year-old Marine, was taken into custody after the deadly encounter and then released without criminal charges. He declined to comment when reached by The Post on Tuesday.
Police previously said he had been threatening other riders and throwing garbage at them.
The straphanger then approached the homeless man from behind and took him to the ground with a chokehold for around 15 minutes, Vazquez and police said.
Neely at first continued to move his legs and arms while being restrained, Vasquez said.
“None of us who were there thought he was in danger of dying,” Vasquez told The Post Tuesday. “We thought he just passed out or ran out of air.”
Cops said Neely had been living on the streets and had a recorded history of mental illness.
He also had a tragic past — his mother was strangled to death in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 2007 when he was just 14, according to a 2012 report by the Newark Star-Ledger.
Christine Neely, who was then 36, was killed and stuffed in a suitcase, which was dumped on the Henry Hudson Parkway on April 7, 2007, the outlet reported.
Shawn Southerland went on the run but was later caught and found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison in March 2012.
It is unknown where Jordan Neely lived after his mother’s death.
In recent years Neely was an occasional street performer known for his impersonation of former pop icon Michael Jackson — with his fans including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.
“I saw Jordan Neely perform his Michael Jackson routine many times on the A train,” Levine said on Twitter Wednesday. “He always made people smile.
“Our broken mental health system failed him,” Levine wrote. “He deserved help, not to die in a chokehold on the floor of the subway.”
Police sources said authorities are waiting for the results of his autopsy to rule out another cause of death, such as a heart attack, before potentially moving forward with charges. The coroner was conducting additional testing on neck tissue following the initial autopsy, a law enforcement source said Wednesday.
City Comptroller Brad Lander decried the fatal incident, tweeting, “NYC is not Gotham.”
“We must not become a city where a mentally ill human being can be choked to death by a vigilante without consequence. Or where the killer is justified & cheered.”
Dave Giffen, the executive director of Coalition for the Homeless, pointed the finger at Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, calling the incident an “absolute travesty”
“This horrific incident is yet another reminder of Governor Hochuls’ and Mayor Adams’ complete failure to provide the critical mental health services desperately needed by so many people in our city,” Giffen said.
“What’s more, the fact that someone who took the life of a distressed, mentally-ill human being on a subway could be set free without facing any consequences is shocking, and evidences the City’s callous indifference to the lives of those who are homeless and psychiatrically unwell.”
Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton jumped into the fray on Wednesday, likening the on-video incident to notorious Big Apple vigilante Bernie Goetz and calling for action through his National Action Network.
“The National Action Network demands the district attorney and police investigate this horrific incident as a potential case of manslaughter — if not murder,” Sharpton said in a statement.
“Thirty years ago I fought that Bernard Goetz case and we cannot end up back to a place where vigilantism is tolerable,” he said. “It wasn’t acceptable then and it cannot be acceptable now.”