DA Bragg Drops Murder Charges Against Jose Alba
On Tuesday, July 19th, District Attorney Alvin Bragg dropped the murder charges against Jose Alba, the bodega worker who fatally stabbed an attacker in self-defense. Mayor Eric Adams has praised Bragg for making the “right decision” in dismissing the case.
Braggs decision follows weeks of criticism by elected officials, lawyers, and community members. Alba, who was home on a bond but under house arrest, had his ankle moniter removed a few hours after the charges were dropped on Tuesday.
A disagreement involving the purchase of a bag of chips turned deadly on Friday, July 1st when a man was stabbed to death. Jose Alba, a 51-year-old man who was a worker in a Hamilton Heights bodega, repeatedly stabbed 35-year-old Austin Simon in the neck and chest, killing him.
On that Friday evening, Alba had assisted Simon’s girlfriend in the bodega. Simon’s girlfriend intended on buying a bag of chips for her 10-year-old daughter, who she was with, but her debit card failed to complete the transaction due to a lack of adequate funds.
Alba indicated that he would not allow the bag of chips to leave the store if not paid for. Simon’s girlfriend became agitated, stormed out of the store, and returned a few minutes later with her boyfriend, Austin Simon.
Simon and Alba had an exchange of words before the former ended up behind the counter of the store, directly in Alba’s face. Video footage of the incident shows that Simon stood over Alba and held him threateningly.
Alba managed to release himself from Simon’s clutches, grabbed a knife, and stabbed him in the neck and chest. Simon died from his wounds and Alba was arrested and charged with murder in the 2nd degree. He was taken in and held in custody on Rikers Island.
More Insight on the Dropped Murder Charges Against Jose Alba
Alba was held on a bail amount of $250,000. This was because he was seen as a flight risk due to the fact he had booked flights to visit the Dominican Republic, prior to the stabbing, in which he would be leaving the week following the incident.
His family managed to post the bond at $5,000 after the judge at his hearing reduced bail to $50,000.
The stabbing incident, the altercation that occurred prior, the way it happened, and Alba’s eventual arrest, caused an uproar in the city, with many claiming Alba acted in self-defense and had no other choice.
Several members of the community, family members, elected officials, and Mayor Eric Adams spoke in support of Alba.
“My heart goes out for this hard-working, honest New Yorker that was doing his job in his place of business, where a person came in and went behind the counter and attacked him,” Adams said. The mayor made an appearance at the Hamilton Heights bodega.
“The DA has his job, I have my job as the Mayor of the city of New York. As the Mayor of the city of New York, I support hard-working, innocent people that are doing their job, and I saw him as a hard-working innocent New Yorker that a person went behind the counter and attacked,” said Adams, a retired NYPD captain.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was criticized for laying a murder charge against Alba. This criticism has come from elected officials and lawyers. A group of members of the City Council released a statement expressing their support for Alba.
“The fact that you are even prosecuting Mr. Alba reveals how your perverse sense of justice not only protects violent criminals but actively seeks to destroy the lives of crime victims,” the lawmakers wrote Bragg on Thursday, July 7th.
The statement went on to criticize Bragg for being “soft on crime” and “simply rewarding the guilty and punishing the innocent.” Bragg has been accused of being lenient on crime by lessening charges against accused criminals, which allows them to avoid jail time.
Michael Discioarro is a former Bronx district attorney and college professor with an understanding of New York law. He wrote that citizens of New York State have the right to defend themselves against attack. “This is a case that cries out for justice for the accused.
Still on the News…
Jose Alba was sitting in his store working and was no harm to anyone. Then the perpetrator came behind the counter and attacked him,” Discioarro wrote. “Under our law, a person may use deadly physical force upon another individual when, and to the extent that ‘he/she reasonably believes it to be necessary to defend himself/herself [or someone else] from what he/she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of [unlawful] deadly physical force by such individual.’” Discioarro indicates that Alba may have a credible defense to use in court.
Alba is the father of three children. His daughter, Yulissa, stood by her father reiterating that he acted in self-defense. “It was either him or the guy at the moment. He’s never hurt anybody. He’s never had an altercation where he had to defend himself. This is the first time for him,” she said.
Simon’s family attended the court hearing where Alba was released on bond. His sister claimed that her brother had been murdered in cold blood. “If the shoe was on the other foot, my brother wouldn’t have gotten bail or bond or nothing,” she said.
Simon’s girlfriend, who was present during the incident that led to his death, is shown stabbing Alba during the altercation. People have called for her arrest for stabbing Alba but she has not been arrested or charged, most likely because she stabbed Alba while he was stabbing Simon.
Alba, speaking from his home in Manhattan, said he was ‘sad’ about the incident. “I didn’t think this would happen,” he said. “At that moment, I was in shock.
I didn’t know what to do and what to say. I feel very sad,” Alba said. “I’d tell them that I didn’t want to do this,” he added. “This happened. I don’t know in the moment how this happened. But I’m also sad. I know what the pain is. I ask that they please forgive me because I didn’t want to do that.”
On Wednesday, July 13th, a rally was held at City Hall demanding that DA Bragg drop the murder charge against Alba. Some of the demonstrators, aware of Bragg’s past of leniency towards criminals, demanded he steps down from his position as DA.