Alvin Bragg's pro-crime policies slammed by victims of violence, House Judiciary Committee in New York

"I did what I knew I had to do to save my life," said Alba, who added, "I stabbed that man in self-defense."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing in New York City, hearing from victims of violent crime in Manhattan and how the borough’s District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s lenient stance on prosecuting criminals has continued to hurt them.

Speaking through an interpreter, bodega worker Jose Alba recounted being attacked and stabbed while working one day in July of 2022, defending himself in an act of self-defense, and being arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Alba said that on July 1, 2022, he went to work "just like any other day. I took pride in the hard work I put in every day that the story to earn my own money and support myself and my family."

"That is when I encountered a true and real threat to my life."

Alba said that on that day, he told a woman that she could not have the potato chips she attempted to purchase after her payment was declined.

Alba said the woman’s boyfriend "attacked me, violently threw me around the store. The woman stabbed me herself. I truly believe they were there to kill me."

"I did what I knew I had to do to save my life," said Alba, who added, "I stabbed that man in self-defense."

Alba said that despite being injured, police arrested him and took him to jail. When taken before the judge, Alba was told he was being charged with murder in the second degree. Unable to pay bail, Alba was taken to Rikers Island, "forced into a crowded and unsafe cell," and didn’t receive the medical care he needed.

"I was forced to endure the harsh conditions on Rikers Island as an innocent man. I still don’t know why I was charged with murder. I believe that law enforcement and the DA’s office didn’t investigate the case fully. They rushed to judgment and I suffered because of it," Alba said.

Alba said that despite the charges being dropped, he was "traumatized" by the incident, and is not working "because I’m terrified for my life that someone in the gang will come after me for revenge."

Alba called for crime to be addressed on the streets by law enforcement and in the courts by prosecutors, and that "it has to be aimed at the people committing crime, not an innocent man like me."

Jennifer Harrison, founder of Victims Rights NY, told the committee that "I was thrown into this world and forced to become an expert on the issues we are here to discuss when on January 15 of 2005, both my boyfriend and his best friend were murdered. Three brothers were arrested and charged but justice was not served."

Harrison said two of these brothers had previous criminal records, but were freed on a sweetheart deal. One of the three was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for the killings. 

After the killings, Harrison said she became an advocate "against some of the atrocities I witnessed and tried to help other survivors of homicide victims connect with the resources they need to navigate through this endless nightmare."

Harrison said that "if Alvin Bragg was doing his job, none of us would be here today to talk. We are not politicizing our issues or our loss. From day one, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced he would not prosecute even very violent crimes in his now infamous memo. We saw an immediate result."

Bragg’s office, she said, has downgraded 52 percent of felonies, and when his office decides to prosecute a case, "they only have about a 50 percent conviction rate." During Bragg’s first year in office, the crime index went up 25.57 percent. Manhattan crime went up 11.73 percent, and murders in the Manhattan South precinct alone went up 40 percent. Harrison noted that over 65 assistant district attorneys left the office in the first half of 2022.

Madeline Brame, Chairwoman of the Victims Rights Reform Council, told the committee about the killing of her son, Afghanistan veteran Sergeant Hason Correa, in 2018.

"Hason was kicked, punched, and stabbed nine times by four individuals he did not know nor had he done them any harm" in Harlem in 2018.

All four were arrested and charged with first-degree gang assault and second-degree murder, she said. The case was just resolved this year.

"When Alvin Bragg came into office, he was handed a strong trial-ready murder case and gang assault case against all four of these individuals with his brutal, savage homicide was captured on video," she said, adding that when Bragg was handed the case, "the case immediately began to unravel."

Brame said Bragg dropped the charges against two of the four assailants, instead charging one with assault with a shoe and sentenced her to one year in prison, and charged another one instead with attempted gang assault, serving seven years.

"Mary Saunders, the savage, is currently walking the streets of Harlem like she didn't just participate in the brutal slaughter of another human being. 

"I propose not another dime of our federal tax dollars be pumped into these organizations until they can produce some measurable outcomes of effectiveness of what they're doing with our tax dollars to protect the public," Brame said.

Berry Borgen told the committee about May 20, 2021, the day his son, Joseph, was attacked in Times Square.

Borgen said he took his son to the emergency room, with his son’s face being beaten and sprayed with mace.

"They punched him, one fella hit him with crutches, in Times Square, broad daylight, all because he’s wearing a yarmulke going to a pro-Israel rally. I’m in New York my whole life. I’m 57, never had problems like this."

"They have a film of this in black and white from people on the street in Times Square. It’s an open-and-shut case. And here Bragg’s just schlepping his case along with no solution offering deal after deal," Borgen said.

Being let out on probation, one of the attackers, Waseem Awawdeh, allegedly said, "I will do this again," said Borgen.

"He has physical therapy three days a week, and these six individuals are walking the streets, roaming around like nothing, not can't a world, and it's almost two years... nothing gets done."


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