On Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg dropped a murder charge against Harlem bodega worker 61-year-old Jose Alba, who fatally stabbed 35-year-old Austin Simon on July 1 after Simon went behind the counter of the bodega and violently shoved Alba against a wall.
Assistant district attorney Jennifer Sigall filed a motion on Tuesday to drop the second-degree murder charge against Alba. Sigall provided a copy of this motion to Alba’s attorney Michelle Villasenor-Grant. Fox News subsequently confirmed that the judge in Alba’s case had dismissed the charge.
The decision to drop the murder charge against Alba came after widespread criticism of Bragg’s office for bringing the charge in the first place.
The altercation reportedly began after Simon’s girlfriend attempted to buy a bag of chips. After her card was declined, Alba took the chips out of her hands. Simon then went behind the Bodega counter, initiating the physical altercation.
Graphic video of the altercation between Simon and Alba showed Simon shove Alba, who fell into a chair. Simon then stood over Alba, apparently yelling at him.
Eventually, Alba got up to leave, but Simon grabbed him by the shirt, at which point Alba pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed Simon.
Simon later died of his knife wounds.
Another video from the encounter appeared to show Simon’s girlfriend repeatedly stabbing Alba with her own knife. Alba was stabbed multiple times in the shoulder and hand.
The New York Daily News reported Alba’s stab wounds became infected while he was held in jail on a $500,000 cash bail.
Simon’s girlfriend has not been named and no charges have been filed against her for her part in the altercation.
The New York Times reported that in the decision to drop the murder charge against Alba, the Manhattan D.A.’s office said it would be unable to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said “The D.A. in my opinion made the right decision.”
According to the New York Times, Simon’s family spoke with Bragg’s office prior to the dismissal of the charges and criticized the D.A.’s decision to drop the case.
“We are all clearly disappointed and can’t understand how it’s OK to take an unarmed man’s life,” Simon’s cousin Candra Simon said. “This decision sets a dangerous precedent.”
Simon’s family said that Simon should not have confronted Alba, but after watching the video, they believe it was wrong for Simon to be killed for his actions.