Murder or Self-Defense? Calls Grow for Manhattan DA to Drop Bodega Clerk’s Charges

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Currents News Staff

A deadly stabbing captured on surveillance video. Jose Alba was working at an upper Manhattan bodega on July 1 when police say he got into a fight with another man.

According to a criminal complaint, a woman tried to buy a snack for her daughter. Her payment card was declined. She told police Alba reached over the counter and grabbed her daughter’s hand to get the item back.

The unidentified woman then left, but later returned to the store with her boyfriend, Austin Simon. A criminal complaint says Simon went behind the counter and pushed the bodega clerk.

Alba told an investigator Simon wanted him to apologize to the girl. Surveillance video shows Simon attempting to steer the clerk out of the area behind the counter.

The complaint states Alba “picked up a kitchen knife that was stashed behind the counter and stabbed Mr. Simon in the neck and chest at least five times.”

It goes on to say Simon’s girlfriend took a knife from her purse and stabbed Alba, who suffered a wound to his arm. Police say Simon died later that evening “of stab wounds to his neck and torso.”

Officers arrested Alba on July 2 and he is charged with one count of second-degree murder and has been released on $50,000 bond, partially secured by the owners of the bodega.

The case is reigniting the debate over self-defense laws in New York. New York City Mayor Eric Adams says he supports Alba.

“My heart goes out for that hard-working honest New Yorker that was doing his job in his place of business,” said Mayor Adams, “where a person came in and went behind the counter and attacked him. My heart goes out to that employee who was in the store doing his job. And so I am hoping that we take all of that into consideration as this hardworking New Yorker was doing his job and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him. So the DA has his job.”

In a meeting with bodega workers on Tuesday, the Manhattan DA said he wouldn’t drop the charges just yet and that they are still investigating.

Alvin Bragg has been criticized for his controversial, progressive policies. Bodega workers say that bail reform is a big problem and they need more protection saying they feel more unsafe than they did in the 1980s.