New York City prosecutors are seeking to drop murder charges against a bodega worker for fatally stabbing a man who physically attacked him over a bag of chips.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office on Tuesday asked a judge to drop the charges against 61-year-old Jose Alba, who said he was acting in self-defense in the stabbing, court filings show.
Bragg had faced intense backlash after charging Alba, including criticism from the city’s mayor, who said the bodega worker was clearly justified in defending himself.
Alba, who had faced a second-degree murder charge, was working at the Blue Moon deli on July 1 when he fatally stabbed Austin Simon in the neck and chest.
Surveillance footage clearly showed that Simon, 37, had moved behind the counter at the convenience store in Hamilton Heights and pushed the store clerk into a stack of shelves before grabbing him.
It was only then that Alba reached over to a shelf and pulled out a knife to fight back.
Bodega worker Jose Alba (right) was physically attacked by a customer before pulling out a knife and fatally stabbing the man. Charges against Alba are now being dropped
Surveillance footage from the Blue Moon convenience store in Hamilton Heights showed Jose Alba, 61, was assaulted before he grabbed a knife and stabbed Austin Simon, 37, on July 1
Jose Alba, 61, the Manhattan bodega worker charged with murder for stabbing a man who assaulted him, is released on bail earlier this month
During the altercation, Alba was apparently stabbed by Simon’s girlfriend, who instigated the argument when her benefits card was declined. The girlfriend was never charged in the incident.
Tuesday’s motion to dismiss stated that prosecutors ‘have determined that we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force.’
The filing said that ‘a homicide case against Alba could not be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt’ and that the case will not be presented to a grand jury.
Simon’s cousin Candra Simon criticized the decision to drop the charges against Alba, and said that it sets a ‘dangerous precedent’.
‘We are all clearly disappointed and can’t understand how it’s OK to take an unarmed man’s life,’ said Candra Simon, according to the New York Times.
Alba’s defense attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment from DailyMail.com on Tuesday.
District Attorney Bragg had faced intense criticism after charging Alba, including from Mayor Eric Adams.
Progressive DA Alvin Bragg had faced intense criticism after charging the bodega worker
The progressive DA’s move to drop charges will have to be approved by a judge, but likely means that Alba’s legal ordeal has come to an end.
Pressure had been growing for Bragg to drop the charges against Alba since footage emerged showing that Simon – who has previously been convicted for other assaults – had pushed Alba into a shelf and started dragging him.
The footage shows the two struggling before Alba grabbed his knife and started stabbing Simon
Other videos obtained by DailyMail.com show Simon – who was on parole for attacking a police officer when he died – marching behind the bodega counter to confront Alba.
‘Papa, I don’t want a problem, papa,’ Alba told him calmly.
Simon charged into the Blue Moon convenience store minutes after his girlfriend tried to buy a bag of chips for her daughter, but her electronic benefits card had been declined.
This is the moment Alba was stabbed in the arm by the girlfriend of the man he stabbed to death on July 1 in a row over a bag of potato chips
Alba was stabbed in the arm by Simon’s girlfriend during the altercation
The woman, who claimed Alba snatched the bag of chips from the child, is heard on the video asking Alba, ‘Did you put food?’
Alba responds that he’ll try her card another time.
‘OK, mama, let me do it another time. My God,’ he says to her as she insists, ‘There’s money on there.’
But he swipes the EBT card multiple times and hands it back to her, saying it’s not working.
The woman was in the store with her daughter trying to buy a bag of chips
The edited footage cuts to show other customers in the bodega as the woman is heard yelling out of view from the camera.
‘You can’t touch my daughter. Don’t snatch that out of my daughter, you f–king piece of shit!’
The woman had reported that Alba snatched the bag of chips from her daughter’s hands when they couldn’t pay.
She continues, ‘I’m gonna bring my n– down here and he gonna f–k you up. My n— is gonna come down here right now and f–k you up!’
Alba tells her it’s not his fault and the card wasn’t working.
Another woman asked, ‘Did they take something from you?’ Alba replied, ‘No, I take it back.’
Simon can then be seen on the video storming into the store and walking behind the counter where he confronts Alba.
‘What’s up with you? N****r what is wrong with you?’ he yells at him.
It is then that Simon pushes Alba into the shelf. According to court filings, Alba responded by stabbing Simon in the heart, lung, and jugular vein.
The convenience store where the incident occurred in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights
In the new video footage, it cuts to show a bloodied Simon splayed out on the bodega floor and his girlfriend is heard yelling, ‘That was over $3. Three f**king dollars. He snatched something out of my daughter…please help him.’
Insiders have claimed the girlfriend has not been charged for attacking the shop worker because prosecutors think she was defending her boyfriend.
Following the altercation, Simon was brought to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead; Alba was thrown in the city’s infamous Riker’s Island prison on murder charges.
He was originally being held on a $250,000 bond, but the district attorney’s office lowered to $50,000 amid the growing outrage.
Among those who expressed their support for Alba was New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, who even visited the bodega to offer his support.
United Bodegas of America joined the calls for Alba to be released last week
‘I’m a person that’s there for people following the law. I saw from the video, I saw a voter here inside the store following the law…It’s time for New Yorkers and Americans to start standing up for people who follow the law,’ he said.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin also slammed Bragg’s decision to charge Alba, tweeting: ‘My first Day 1 action as Governor next January will be to fire Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.’
Alba’s fellow bodega workers said they will not let him return to work because they fear the victim’s friends will come to harm him.
‘We’re not letting him come back,’ a Blue Moon Convenience store worker named ‘Wilson’ told the New York Post.
Wilson said the ‘friends and family’ of the slain man now know where Alba works and his coworkers fear it’s a ‘death sentence’ if he returns to his post.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk