Not only has New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg locked up the bodega worker who allegedly stabbed an irate customer to death in apparent self-defense earlier in July, but he’s also refusing to charge the assailant’s girlfriend with stabbing the employee three times during the altercation.
Jose Alba and his supporters say video evidence clearly shows he acted in self-defense, yet he has been held on bail of $250,000 at Riker’s Island prison following the melee.
“I don’t understand why the [district attorney] hasn’t charged her,” Francisco Marte of the Bodega and Small Business Association Group said outside Alba’s Hamilton Heights apartment after he visited the employee on Monday.
He believes the 32-year-old girlfriend should absolutely be charged for stabbing Alba as he tried to ward off her boyfriend, who confronted Alba after his girlfriend was denied a bag of chips because she did not have enough money to pay for them.
“She participated in that,” Marte said of the deadly encounter. “She’s supposed to be in jail and the $250,000 bail [Alba once faced] should be on her, not on him. He was just defending himself.”
Pelea fatal dentro de una bodega en New York es captada por una cámara de seguridad. Todo comenzó por unos snacks que el bodeguero le habría quitado a una niña, el sujeto le reclamó a empujones, siendo apuñalado en el cuello y el pecho
Imágenes fuertes 🔞pic.twitter.com/5XYQTWTmvi
— CrónicaPolicial (@CronicaPolicial) July 8, 2022
Law enforcement sources say that prosecutors believe the woman was acting in defense of her boyfriend and therefore should not be charged.
“The DA’s office looked at the tape, and they felt she was defending her boyfriend,” a law enforcement officer with knowledge of the situation told The NY Post. “They didn’t feel charges were necessary.”
However, defense lawyer and former Bronx prosecutor Michael Discioarro does not see it that way.
“I have no idea why she’s not charged,” Discioarro said. “Her boyfriend was the aggressor. She does not get to protect the aggressor.”
“We’re getting a good look at how the system works for the average person,” he said. “Imagine if there was no video. Jose Alba would never be released from Rikers, and [Simon’s girlfriend] would testify against him, likely perjuring herself.”
The fatal incident occurred in Harlem on July 1 after the woman’s debit card was repeatedly declined as she attempted to purchase the snack item for her daughter. She claimed Alba was rude to her and sought her 35-year-old boyfriend for assistance. He showed up at the store and confronted Alba behind the store’s counter, surveillance video showed.
“The customer appears to yell at the store clerk, before shoving him into a shelf, the clip shows. After several moments, the worker reaches to the right, toward shelves displaying candy. He pulls out a large knife and plunges it into the younger man’s neck and chest — which quickly becomes covered in blood, the footage shows. The pair fall away from the camera view as blood begins to splatter on the man’s T-shirt — with the clerk then coming back into focus still holding the bloody knife,” the Post reported at the time.
The deceased, Austin Simon, was an ex-convict, having served state prison time for assaulting a police officer. Alba, 51, was charged with second-degree murder and weapons possession in the unfortunate escalation over the bag of chips. His bail has since been renegotiated to a figure of $5,000 and he has been released to his home under heavy monitoring.
Alba expressed remorse on Monday, the first time he has been spoken to the press about the altercation.
“I’m very sad. I didn’t think this would happen,” he said in Spanish. “At the moment I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do and what to say.”
When asked if he could make a statement to Simon’s family, Alba said, “I’d tell them that I didn’t want to do this,” he said. “I ask that they please forgive me because I didn’t want to do that.”
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