LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Civil rights leaders in Los Angeles Friday joined a national chorus in calling for criminal charges to be filed against a U.S. Marine veteran who held a homeless man in a chokehold on a New York subway car this week, apparently causing the man's death.
The death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely on Monday was ruled a homicide, but whether there was intent or culpability is a matter for prosecutors to determine, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office says it is investigating Neely's death, but no charges have so far been filed.
Video showing Neely -- who reportedly was threatening other passengers -- being held in a chokehold by 24-year-old Daniel Penny on the floor of a subway car has spread on social media.
Civil rights leaders in Los Angeles on Friday gathered at the Leimert Park Metro station to urge that charges be filed against Penny, who has been dubbed a "self-styled vigilante" in Neely's death.
Penny was questioned and released by police.
"Any time people think they can take the law into their own hands, there's a problem," said Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope.
Neely was choked by "someone who was not law enforcement, someone who did not work for the transit authority, someone who was not security or police. He was a regular citizen who took the law into his own hands."
Added Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable: "There's no excuse for the Manhattan district attorney not to prosecute. What are you waiting for? The pictures speak for themselves."
Neely was known to perform on subway platforms as a Michael Jackson impersonator. The day of his death, he was loudly complaining of being hungry and thirsty while riding the train, according to a witness who posted a four- minute video on Facebook showing the encounter.
"Jordan Neely should be alive today," Ali told the gathering Friday.
Some reports said Neely was experiencing a mental health episode when he entered the subway car.
The use of carotid restraints, or chokeholds, is restricted by the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
"Chokeholds are deadly -- and we don't want to see any copycats," Hutchinson said, adding that Neely "represents a lot of young African- Americans who have lost their lives."