Former bodega clerk Jose Alba, who was charged with murder after stabbing an attacker at his store, is suing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the NYPD for racial discrimination.
In 2022, at the Blue Moon bodega in Harlem, Alba fatally stabbed Austin Simon during an altercation initiated over a dispute regarding an unpaid bag of chips.
Alba, asserting he acted in self-defense, faced charges of second-degree murder. He stated in his lawsuit that he was unduly charged and detained at Rikers Island due to Bragg’s policies on “racial equity” in the criminal justice system.
The lawsuit mentions, “While in theory, Bragg’s ‘racial equity’ policies are a well-intentioned attempt by him to implement even-handed justice, the means and methods employed by Bragg have instead had an opposite effect and resulted in discrimination against certain defendants based on race.”
The lawsuit also named NYPD Detective William Garcia and unspecified arresting officers and police detectives.
Despite Alba’s claim of self-defense, Bragg initially set his bail at $500,000, which was later reduced by a judge to $250,000 and then further lowered to $50,000.
After Alba spent six days in Rikers, public outcry grew considerably. This included remarks from Mayor Eric Adams, who said, “My heart goes out to the employee who was in the store doing his job…and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him.”
By July 19, 2022, Bragg dropped the charges following increasing public pressure, conceding there was insufficient evidence to dispute Alba’s self-defense claim.
The lawsuit doesn’t stop at Bragg; it also targets the Department of Correction and other entities, accusing them of the “unconstitutional conditions of confinement and inadequate medical care at Rikers Island.”
Alba, who had announced his intent to sue earlier this year, seeks compensatory and punitive damages, the exact amount of which will be determined by a jury. Alba’s attorney, Rich Cardinale, commented that Bragg “is treating people differently and he’s hurting people…We can’t keep pitting ourselves against each other based on race.”