Daniel Penny, in his first interview since he was charged with manslaughter by Manhattan’s District Attorney Alvin Bragg, rejected the media’s characterization of him as a “white supremacist” and said the he didn’t feel personal guilt over the situation because he always tries to do the right thing.
“I judge a person based on their character. I’m not a white supremacist,” Penny told the New York Post.
“I mean, it’s, it’s a little bit comical. 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 refuted the depiction of him as a vigilante: “I’m a normal guy.”
He explained in the interview he can’t go into details due to the pending court case, but it was unlike “anything I’d experienced before.”
“This was different, this time was much different,” Penny said. “This time was very different.”
Penny’s attorney Thomas Kenniff of the Manhattan law firm Raiser & Kenniff said that fellow F train passengers will corroborate his client’s account.
“I can tell you that the threats, the menacing, the terror that Jordan Neely introduced to that train has already been well documented,” Kenniff said. “I don’t think it’s going to even be controverted. There are numerous witnesses from all different walks of life who have absolutely no motive to do anything other than to recount what actually happened. They are uniform in their recollection of events.”
Penny then relived the basic circumstances of his trip, which was interrupted with the fateful meeting with Jordan Neely.
“I was going to my gym,” Penny said. “There’s a pool there. I like to swim. I was living in the East Village. I take the subway multiple times a day. I think the New York transit system is the best in the world and I’ve been all over the world.”
“You know, I live an authentic and genuine life,” Penny added. “And I would — if there was a threat and danger in the present …”
The Post then asked him if he felt any shame for what happened.
“I don’t, I mean, I always do what I think is right.”
“If you’re faced with all these challenges, you have to remain calm,” he explained. “What’s the point of worrying about something, worrying is not going to make your problems disappear. I attribute this to my father and grandfather. They are very very stoic.”
Penny also said that he gave up social media years ago.
“I don’t follow anyone, and I don’t have social media because I really don’t like the attention and I just think there are better ways to spend your time. I don’t like the limelight.”
Penny, who has three sisters, said that his family is “hanging in there” during the challenging time in his lfie.
“My mom is OK,” he said. “My sisters understand. They all support me.”
The Post report noted that Penny attended Suffolk Community College after graduating from West Islip High School, where he was a lacrosse star, before enlisting in the Marines.
“Growing up in the wake of 9/11 and the terrorist attacks in a community full of firemen, first responders, police officers, it was like, I needed to serve my community in some way,” he said.
Penny was deployed twice with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“We went to Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Greece and Spain,” he said. “We stayed off the coast of Iran for a bit. It was during that whole drone thing when they were shooting stuff down and stuff.” Penny’s travels also took him to Okinawa, Japan.
“I love to travel,” he said. “It really changed my perspective of the world for sure. I’m very thankful for being able to travel so much. Just the friendliness and welcoming of everyone and everywhere that I went to. And even before I deployed, you know, a lot of my friends I served with in my platoon came from all over a lot from Central America and Mexico, that, you know, I’ve opened up my, my eyes to their cultures and their perspectives.”
He also talked about his time in the U.S. Marines.
“I loved leading Marines and I love being around Marines,” he said of his service, where he eventually achieved the rank of sergeant. “I love helping people.”
Penny said he didn’t “try to become a leader” in the Marines. “I just did what I had to do. And I think growing up in a majority female household, you learn to lead in different ways from an early age. You learn to have compassion and humility — and disregard your perspective and show compassion to other people’s perspectives as well.”
Daniel Penny has a defense fund on GiveSendGo, where he has raised nearly $3 million for his legal expenses.
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.