A New York judge has dismissed charges against a bodega worker seen on video stabbing a man who attacked him behind the counter in the store where he was a clerk.
Reports show that Jose Alba had been charged with second-degree murder for killing Austin Simon on July 1 at Blue Moon convenience store. Surveillance footage from the Blue Moon shows the 35-year-old man confronting and pushing the 61-year-old clerk before Alba grabbed a knife.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office faced backlash for prosecuting Alba as many, including New York Mayor Eric Adams, argued the clerk acted in self-defense. Bodega worker advocates also came to Alba’s defense.
Alba’s $250,000 bail was dropped to $50,000 amid the outrage, which the clerk posted, according to reports. Bragg had initially asked the court for a $500,000 bail package, arguing that Alba had a trip scheduled to his native country of the Dominican Republic the following week.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sigall filed a motion to dismiss the charges on July 19, which Judge Laurie Peterson granted.
“Following an investigation, the People have determined that we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force,” the district attorney wrote in the court documents.
“As such, the People will not be presenting the case to a Grand Jury and for the reasons provided in the attached memorandum, hereby move to dismiss the complaint.”
Prosecutors said Simon’s “death stemmed from a physical confrontation that Simon started because he believed that Alba had harshly treated the ten-year-old daughter of Simon’s girlfriend.”
Simon’s girlfriend had tried to buy a bag of chips for the girl when her payment card declined. The woman said in a criminal complaint that Alba grabbed her daughter’s hand to take back the snack. The girlfriend knocked items off the counter and left and promised to return with Simon.
“My n— gonna come down here right now and f— you up,” the court documents said.
Alba told investigators that Simon demanded that he apologize to the girl. The younger man had a box cutter tucked in his shorts that was visible, but he never pulled it out. Alba’s attorney argued that the worker, who is 5 feet 7 inches tall, had to protect himself from the 6-foot Simon.
“The video in this case speaks for itself: Mr. Alba was simply doing his job when he was aggressively cornered by a much younger and bigger man,” Alice Fontier, a spokeswoman for Alba’s attorney, said a week before the case was dismissed.
Alba stabbed Simon five times, including near the jugular vein. Simon’s girlfriend tried to intervene, reportedly pulling a knife from her purse and slashing the worker his arm. Reports show Simon died later at a nearby hospital from stab wounds to his “neck and torso.”
When a defendant claims self-defense, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in using deadly force.
Mayor Eric Adams said prosecutors made the right call in asking to drop the case.
“I think in this case, we had an innocent, hardworking New Yorker that was doing his job, and someone was extremely aggressive towards him,” he said at a July 19 news conference. “And I believe after the DA’s review, the DA, in my opinion, made the right decision.”
Neighborhood Defender Service spokesperson Shannon Anglero said in a statement that Alba “looks forward to moving about freely and spending time with his family.