July 11, 2022 By Christian Murray
Three elected officials from Queens have signed on to a letter calling on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to drop the murder charge filed against a bodega worker who fatally stabbed a man in what they say was self-defense.
Council Members Bob Holden, Vickie Paladino and Joann Ariola are among the seven councilmembers who have sent Bragg a joint letter calling for the murder charge to be dropped.
“We urge you to drop all charges against Jose Alba, “the letter reads. “The fact that you are even prosecuting Mr. Alba reveals how your perverse sense of justice not only protects violent criminals, but actively seeks to destroy the lives of crime victims”
The letter is in support of Alba, 61, who allegedly stabbed Austin Simon, 35, multiple times in the neck after he was attacked while working at the Blue Moon Convenience Store on Broadway, near 139th Street around 11 p.m. on July 1.
The incident, which is partially caught on tape, shows Simon go behind the counter and then push Alba backwards toward the floor. A struggle ensued and Alba allegedly stabbed Simon to death. He was then charged with second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
Alba was attacked following an argument over a bag of chips. Simon’s girlfriend was looking to buy chips for her child but was unable to pay for them. A dispute then ensued.
“Footage of the attack shows Austin Simon, who has a lengthy criminal record and is currently on parole for assaulting a cop, going behind the bodega counter and attacking Mr. Alba,” the letter reads.
The letter continues: “Despite having no criminal record and video showing Mr. Alba acting in self-defense, you charged him with second-degree murder and asked the court to hold him on $500,000 bail…. This approach to justice makes most New Yorkers think the city is on a self-destructive path to oblivion.”
Bodega worker, Jose Alba, charged in fatal stabbing of a man who attacked him, which looks like a case of self-defense. pic.twitter.com/fB4H2Fh7vS
— Viral Shid (@ViralShid) July 7, 2022
After public outrage, Alba’s bond was lowered to $50,000 and he was let go after posting the required 10 percent.
The Queens lawmakers—along with councilmembers David Carr (R-Staten Island), Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn), Inna Vernikov (R-Brooklyn) and Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island)—wrote that the case was “particularly jarring,” arguing that Bragg routinely drops charges and waives bail for violent offenders.
“You failed to request a warrant to confiscate a gun used in an armed robbery by serial offender Tyrell Rodgers,” the letter reads. “He later allegedly used that same gun to kill a man. When Hason Correa, a military veteran and married father of three, was beaten and stabbed to death, you gave one assailant only a year in prison and only seven years to another defendant as part of a plea deal.”
The councilmembers said that Braggs approach to criminal justice is not a policy of restorative justice or deincarceration but instead rewarding the guilty and punishing the innocent.
The lawmakers called for Alba’s immediate release. “Please allow common sense to prevail over ideology and recognize that Mr. Alba acted in self-defense.”