NYC DA drops murder charges against bodega worker, Jose Alba, 61, who stabbed gangster, 35, to death after he jumped counter and attacked him ‘over cost of bag of chips’ – Locals since held charges were immoral
“The People have determined that we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant [Jose Alba],was not justified in his use of deadly physical force” – Manhattan ADA Jennifer Sigall, to court
Manhattan district attorney asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss murder charges against Harlem bodega worker Jose Alba for fatally stabbing a man who attacked him behind the counter of a deli
District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s decision brings a likely end to a nearly three-week ordeal for Alba
61-year-old Alba, who said he was acting in self-defense when he knifed 35-year-old Austin Simon inside the Blue Moon bodega on July 1
Manhattan bodega worker, 61, knifes gangster, 35, to death after he jumped counter and attacked him over cost of bag of chips
Alba had been charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon and was facing 25 years to life in prison if he’d been convicted
Enraged locals had demanded his release from Rikers Island where he was held on $250,000 bond
Surveillance footage caught the moment a New York City bodega worker allegedly stabbed a customer to death after the man pushed him
Jose Alba, was seen sitting behind a counter at the Blue Moon Convenient Store when Austin Simon confronted him
Simon then pushed the man into a shelf before yelling at another customer trying to purchase something from the store
He then pulls Alba out of the chair, at which point Alba allegedly pulls out a large knife, which he plunges into Simon’s neck and chest at least five times
Simon was later pronounced dead at a local hospital
The Manhattan district attorney asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss murder charges against Harlem bodega worker Jose Alba for fatally stabbing a man who attacked him behind the counter of a deli.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s decision brings a likely end to a nearly tree week ordeal for the 61-year-old Alba, who said he was acting in self-defense when he knifed Austin Simon inside the Blue Moon bodega on July 1.
To the consternation of locals and most of those who saw Simon in the surveillance footage vault the counter to confront the much older store clerk, Alba was arrested for Murder.
He spent five days on Rikers Island, where a stab wound he suffered during the fight reportedly, became infected.
Adding to the fury of Alba’s supporters, Simon’s girlfriend – who instigated the altercation – stabbed the store employee during the tussle, but was not charged.
The citywide pushback against the charges filed by the Manhattan DA’s office was put to rest Tuesday with the motion by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sigall that read: “The People have determined that we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, [Jose Alba], was not justified in his use of deadly physical force.”
Surveillance footage caught the moment the New York City bodega worker stabbed the belligerent customer [Simon], to death after the man confronted him about the price of some snacks.
The video shows the employee, Jose Alba, sitting behind a counter at the Hamilton Heights grocery store, tending to customers that Friday night.
Images show NYC bodega worker Jose Alba’s injuries from stabbing
The other man in the footage then pushed Alba into a shelf and appears to confront him, before yelling at another customer trying to purchase something.
He then pulls Alba up out of the chair, at which point Alba reaches to the right toward shelves displaying an assortment of candy, and pulls out a large knife, which he then plunges into the man’s neck and chest at least five times.
The two could be seen struggling off-camera as blood splatters across the victim’s white t-shirt and along Alba’s arms.
By the time he comes back into view, Alba could allegedly be seen holding the bloodied knife with blood splattered across his arm.
The customer, who was later identified as 35-year-old Austin Simon, meanwhile, was transported to Harlem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Alba was been charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
He was held on Rikers Island on a $250,000 bond. He was released after five days in the face of public pressure, as local residents rallied around Alba tweeting out the hashtag #FreeJoseAlba, claiming he was acting in self-defense against Simon, a known gang member.
As Alba’s case became a flashpoint in the city with District Attorney Bragg’s critics blasting him for charging the clerk, Mayor Adams had to defend his constant lament about New York’s rising crime rate stepped up to say Alba was “doing his job and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him.”
The confrontation was caught on two cameras, and a memo filed by the D.A.’s office provides new details of what happened before the stabbing.
Simon stormed into the bodega that night after Alba grabbed a bag of chips from his girlfriend’s 10-year-old daughter when her mom couldn’t pay for the snack with her benefits card.
According to the NYPD, the incident began at around 11pm on July 1, after the woman entered the store with her 10-year-old daughter to buy several items., but the woman’s EBT card was declined, according to a criminal complaint.
Store employee Jose Alba reached over the counter to take the snacks away from the girl.
At that point the girl’s mother exploded in rage, according to the court filing. She threw items off the counter and repeatedly bellowed, “Now, my [expletive]’s gonna come down here right now and f— you up!” She summoned her boyfriend Austin Simon.
Interviewed by police, store owner Maad Ahmad, describes the woman’s rage: ‘The lady threw everything from the counter and the machine [card reader], too,’ adding, “I’m going to get my man, and he’s going to get you”.
Simon then walked around the counter and confronted Alba – leading to the confrontation caught on surveillance footage.
‘He grabbed Jose by the neck and tried to get him to apologize to the girl,’ Ahmad said, adding: ‘He pushed Jose first, Jose was just defending himself.
‘Jose said ‘I don’t want any problems.” But allegedly, he wound up stabbing Simon at least five times.
According to police records, Alba told officers on the scene: ‘He wanted me to come apologize to the girl. I took the knife we use to open boxes, and I stabbed him.’
Court documents also claim that Simon’s girlfriend took a knife out of her purse and stabbed Alba in the arm.
Initially held on $250,000, Alba’s bail was later dropped to $50,000. Prosecutors said Alba had at least two strong self-defense arguments to pursue: That he feared Simon might kill him, and that he believed Simon was committing a burglary by stepping behind the counter without permission.
In the motion for withdrawal, Asst. DA Sigall points out that under New York law, “one cannot use deadly physical force to defend against only physical force.” Simon never brandished a box cutter in his pocket, prosecutors noted. However, other facts of the case weighed in Alba’s favor, the prosecutor wrote.
Simon was 26 years younger than Alba and five inches taller than the 5-foot-7 the bodega employee.
Furthermore, “Simon’s conduct in entering the store’s small, private area, throwing Alba against the wall to a place he could not escape, and grabbing him by the collar could inspire deep fear in an older and shorter man as to what might be in store next,“ Sigall wrote.
Sigall added, “This was also in the context of the girlfriend saying five minutes earlier that her boyfriend was going to “come down here right now and f— you up.”
Residents confirmed that Austin Simon was a known gang member, and would often talk about being in a gang. His records show several incarcerations. He was last released in May 2021, following convictions for assault and attempted assault.
The girlfriend has not been charged with a crime. Prosecutors don’t believe they can prove she was not acting in self defense as well. Moreover the knife she used was small enough to be considered legal to carry.
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