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Murder Charge Against Bodega Worker Jose Alba Dropped by District Attorney

Jose Alba, the New York City bodega employee who was charged with second-degree murder after stabbing a customer named Austin Simon who intimidated and attacked him, has had all charges against him dropped by New York County’s district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

Bragg dismissed the charges after weeks of protests advocating for Alba’s release and noted that the D.A.’s office couldn’t find any evidence to contradict Alba’s claim that he was acting in self-defense. In a motion to dismiss the charges, assistant D.A. Jennifer Sigall noted that prosecutors could not “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force,” according to Patch.

The incident escalated after Alba took a bag of chips away from Simon’s girlfriend’s daughter after her mother’s EBT card malfunctioned. Simon’s girlfriend then went outside to grab Simon, who came in and demanded that Alba apologize and give the chips back to his girlfriend’s daughter.

Surveillance footage from the bodega shows Simon grabbing Alba by the collar and pushing him into a corner, causing Alba to grab a nearby knife and stab Simon three times in his heart, lung and jugular vein. Alba was then stabbed twice by Simon’s girlfriend, who has still not been charged. Simon was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Alba then spent five days on Rikers Island and was released on bail after a group of local bodega owners and supporters pooled their money to get Alba back home. The Dominican bodega clerk also had the support of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who held a press conference outside of the Blue Moon Convenience Store, where the altercation took place.

According to the New York Post, Bragg has faced backlash in recent weeks after initially holding Alba on a $500,000 bond at Rikers before lowering it to just $50,000. Bragg has also been accused of dragging his feet in relation to Alba’s second-degree murder charge while simultaneously refusing to charge Simon’s girlfriend, who has been blamed for instigating the fatal altercation and also stabbing Alba twice after he killed Simon.

According to CBS, Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican candidate for governor in the 2022 midterms, 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.”

He continued, “Thankfully, security cameras captured the entire incident on video or Alba could very well still be facing the murder charge today. That video evidence is all of the more reason why Alvin Bragg was so wrong to put Alba through the wringer as long as he did, charging him with murder, sending him to Rikers Island with an open stab wound, and refusing to charge the person who stabbed Alba.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican serving in New York’s 11th Congressional District, said, “While today’s news that charges will be dropped against Mr. Alba is a big victory for justice, 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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