A former bodega employee who was charged with murder after stabbing an assailant in his store last year in what he said was self-defense is now suing left-leaning Manhattan District Attorney Alvin and the New York City Police Department for racial discrimination.
According to the Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit filed on Friday, former clerk Jose Alba, who is accused of fatally stabbing ex-con Austin Simon during a brawl at the Blue Moon bodega in Harlem in July 2022, claims he was charged with second-degree murder and spent days in prison on Rikers Island because of Bragg’s efforts to promote “racial equity” in the Manhattan criminal justice system.
On July 1, 2022, Simon, a 35-year-old African American man, was stabbed many times at the Harlem bodega by Alba, a 61-year-old Dominican immigrant, after the diligent clerk got into a fight with his attacker’s girlfriend over the fact that she couldn’t pay for a bag of chips, according to footage.
Even though Alba insisted he acted in self-defense, Bragg accused the clerk of second-degree murder and demanded a bond amount of $500,000. However, the court reduced it to $250,000 instead.
Alba was sent to Rikers after being unable to pay the exorbitant bond amount, where he was subjected to “inhumane and unconstitutional conditions,” according to the lawsuit. Alba was detained at Rikers Island for six days before being released when the prosecution reduced his bail to $50,000.
Following a public outcry, Bragg ultimately dropped the charges on July 19, conceding there wasn’t enough evidence to show the employee “was not justified in his use of deadly physical force,” according to a motion from his office.
Alba is now requesting compensatory and punitive damages, the amount of which will be decided by a jury.
“While in theory, Bragg’s ‘racial equity’ policies are a well-intentioned attempt by him to implement even-handed justice, the means and methods employed by Bragg have instead had an opposite effect and resulted in discrimination against certain defendants based on race,” the lawsuit claims.