Posted on July 19, 2022

Bodega Clerk Who Fatally Stabbed Man Will Not Face Charges

Jeffery C. Mays and Jonah E. Bromwich, New York Times, July 19, 2022

After weeks of mounting pressure, the Manhattan district attorney on Tuesday morning dropped a murder charge against a bodega clerk who fatally stabbed an attacker.

Jose Alba, 61, killed Austin Simon, 35, on July 1. Mr. Simon had gone behind the counter at the Harlem bodega and shoved Mr. Alba after he had argued with Mr. Simon’s girlfriend over paying for snacks for her 10-year-old daughter. {snip}

The district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, charged Mr. Alba with second-degree murder, spurring the city’s tabloids — and, eventually, Mayor Eric Adams — to come to the clerk’s defense.

Mr. Bragg and his office were criticized for initially requesting a $500,000 bail, which prosecutors said they asked for because Mr. Alba had been planning to leave the country. But Mr. Alba’s supporters said that he was defending himself from a younger man who was the aggressor and should not face charges.

In a motion to dismiss the case filed Tuesday morning, the district attorney’s office said that it would be unable to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force.” The case will not be presented to a grand jury.

Mr. Simon’s family spoke with the district attorney’s office Tuesday morning and condemned the decision.


But Mayor Adams signaled his approval: “The D.A. in my opinion made the right decision,” he said Tuesday.


Mr. Adams said Mr. Alba was an example of how “innocent New Yorkers” should be able to work or go to school in peace without the threat of crime. The mayor on July 7 went to the site of the stabbing and held a news conference strongly supporting Mr. Alba.


According to prosecutors, the argument that led to Mr. Simon’s death started around 11 p.m. when Mr. Simon’s girlfriend, who has not been named, entered the Blue Moon convenience store at West 139th Street and Broadway to buy snacks for her daughter.

The card the woman used to pay for the transaction was declined and Mr. Alba used both hands to take the snacks back from the girl, touching the girl’s hands.

Mr. Simon’s girlfriend saw Mr. Alba grab the snacks and became upset, knocking the items off the counter and yelling at Mr. Alba that she was going to get someone to beat him up.

Mr. Simon came to the store and called for Mr. Alba to come out from behind the counter.

“I don’t want a problem, papa,” Mr. Alba was heard saying, according to the video.

Mr. Simon pushed behind the counter and asked Mr. Alba why he had snatched the item from the girl’s hands. Mr. Simon then shoved him into a wall of shelving.

“You’re going to say sorry to my daughter,” Mr. Simon said, according to a witness and Mr. Alba’s own account to investigators.


During the 30-second struggle, Mr. Simon’s girlfriend reached in and tried to pull Mr. Alba’s arm away but he would not stop stabbing Mr. Simon. The woman reached into her purse, grabbed a knife and stabbed Mr. Alba in the arm.