After several weeks of opposition to bodega clerk Jose Alba’s detention, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said on Tuesday that charges against the Hamilton Heights bodega employee accused of murder have been dropped. Alba, 61, was charged with second-degree murder after he stabbed 37-year-old Austin Simon behind the counter of the Blue Moon convenience store in uptown Manhattan. Alba claimed self-defense from the beginning and the District Attorney recently stated that he could not prove otherwise.
According to CBS News, Simon can be seen on surveillance footage grabbing the employee by the collar before Alba pulls out a box cutter. Alba explained through a translator that Simon’s girlfriend also stabbed him. The translator stated, “He was put in a position where he couldn’t tell how it was gonna end. He was just defending his life.”
Material disclosed in the request to dismiss revealed that Simon’s girlfriend’s inability to pay for a snack that her child desired sparked the disagreement. Alba reportedly snatched the snack from the kid and Simon came back to demand an apology, which led to the altercation. Bodega employees and others spoke out in favor of Alba and urged Bragg to withdraw the charges.
Republican candidate for governor Lee Zeldin said, “Jose Alba should never have been charged and sent to Rikers Island in the first place. This was a clear cut case of an innocent man acting in self-defense. Thankfully, security cameras captured the entire incident on video or Alba could very well still be facing the murder charge today.” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis noted that “what our city desperately needs is DA Bragg to charge criminals appropriately to prevent residents from having to resort to self-defense.”
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