New York City's district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is under fire from bodega owners, legal experts, and everyday Americans for charging store clerk Jose Alba after he fatally stabbed an assailant who attacked him in his own store.
Alba, 61, was arrested on a second-degree murder charge and initially held on $500,000 cash bail for the July 1 death of Austin Simon, 35, reported Fox News. Bail was later reduced to a $50,000 bond, which his family was able to post, but not before Alba spent nearly a week at Rikers Island.
On the Friday night when the altercation took place, Simon's girlfriend came into Alba's Blue Moon convenience store with her daughter. After her EBT card was declined while attempting to purchase a bag of chips for the child, the unidentified woman became confrontational as Alba refused to let her have them for free. Alba allegedly took the chips from the young girl, which prompted her mother to threaten him.
"I’m going to bring my n*gger down here, and he gonna f*ck you up," the woman can be heard yelling at Alba in the surveillance video, reported the New York Post.
The woman left the store with her daughter and returned a few minutes later with her boyfriend, Simon, who immediately rushed at Alba.
"Papa, I don’t want a problem," Alba pleaded with Simon, putting his hand up. Simon, a career criminal with 27 prior arrests and who did prison time for assaulting a cop, stormed behind the counter and shoved Alba into the wall, blocking the exit. A tussle ensued, until Alba grabbed a knife from a nearby shelf and stabbed his attacker five times, mortally wounding him. Meanwhile, Simon's girlfriend was stabbing Alba multiple times with a knife she pulled from her purse.
NYPD officers arrived and took Alba, who was suffering from his stab wounds, into custody. Despite the attack being on video, the girlfriend of Simon reportedly claimed to police that she never stabbed Alba. Shockingly, the woman was not charged. This, combined with Alba's second-degree murder charge, has made the story go viral, with many rebuking DA Bragg's decisions.
United Bodegas of America are among the groups concerned with the lack of due process in this case. "Bottom line; in Florida, this is what you would consider stand your ground," UBA spokesman Fernando Mateo said at a press conference, referring to Alba’s case. "That’s what New York City needs." UBA president Radhames Rodriguez said that they're also seeking help from the National Rifle Association to help make it easier for bodega workers to legally obtain handguns to defend themselves and their stores.
In the state of New York, "duty to retreat" laws are in place that state that in a public attack, one must exhaust all methods of getting out of the situation before fighting back. DA Bragg may see the case like this, but it is clear in the video that Simon had no time to escape and could only defend himself.
Democratic NYC Mayor Eric Adams seemed to express sympathy with the "hard-working" and "honest" corner store employee, but still said he wasn't going to "second-guess" Bragg's choice.
"It’s shocking, shocking, inexplicable, that they charged him," said Daniel Bibb, who prosecuted murder cases for nearly 30 years under the late Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau. "They’re crazy. It’s clear from the video that he’s acting in self-defense. It’s clear from all the evidence that they have thus far."
Bodega groups and former prosecutors aren't the only ones who see a problem with Bragg's faulty charge. Republican Florida congressman Byron Donalds took to Twitter to share his support for Alba, and his disdain for the progressive crime policies that demonized self-defense.
2020 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Spike Cohen also spoke out, calling on Mayor Adams and DA Bragg to drop the charge.
On Monday, Alba spoke out publicly for the first time. "I’m very sad," he said in Spanish. "I didn’t think this would happen. At the moment I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do and what to say."
When asked if he had a message for Simon’s family, he said he was sorry.
"I’d tell them that I didn’t want to do this," Alba said. "I ask that they please forgive me because I didn’t want to do that."
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