In an interview with The New York Post, Daniel Penny said it was "comical" that he's been accused of racism.
It was Penny's first public comment since he choked Jordan Neely, a homeless man, to death on a New York subway.
Penny told the Post he's not a vigilante but a "normal guy" who always does "what I think is right."
Daniel Penny, who held a homeless man in a chokehold on a New York subway causing his death, said the accusations against his character are "a little bit comical" because he loves "all people."
In an exclusive interview with The New York Post, Penny, 24, discussed his identity as a family man, his love of surfing, and his travels around the world. It was his first public comment since his May 1 altercation that left Jordan Neely, 30, dead.
"This had nothing to do with race," Penny, who is white, told the Post about the incident with Neely, who was Black. "I judge a person based on their character. I'm not a white supremacist."
Witnesses said Neely was yelling about being hungry and desperate, and behaving erratically on the subway before Penny placed him in a chokehold for several minutes. While witnesses said Neely's behavior was unnerving, there has yet to be any evidence that he assaulted any passengers.
"I mean, it's, it's a little bit comical," Penny told the Post. "Everybody who's ever met me can tell you, I love all people, I love all cultures. You can tell by my past and all my travels and adventures around the world. I was actually planning a road trip through Africa before this happened."
Penny's attorneys said their client, a Marine veteran, "never intended" to harm Neely and "could not have foreseen" Neely's "untimely death."
Penny told the Post: "I always do what I think is right."
After a medical examiner ruled Neely's death a homicide by compression to his neck, the Manhattan district attorney's office charged Penny with manslaughter.
While Penny has been hailed as a hero by top conservatives, others have decried the killing as an example of the kind of "vigilante justice" plaguing the country. The case has sparked racial justice protests in the city and calls for better care for the homeless.
Penny told the Post he's "a normal guy," not a vigilante, and that the scene in the subway car was unlike "anything I'd experienced before."
"I'm deeply saddened by the loss of life," Penny told the Post. "It's tragic what happened to him. Hopefully, we can change the system that's so desperately failed us."
Attorneys for Neely's family, who have called for murder charges, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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