OAN’s Brooke Mallory
5:09 PM – Sunday, October 1, 2023
A former Bodega employee who stabbed an assailant in his store last year out of “self-defense” is suing Democrat 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-convict 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 due to Bragg’s efforts to promote “racial equity” in the Manhattan criminal justice system.
“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 suit said. It also names NYPD Detective William Garcia with other arresting officers and detectives.
On July 1st, 2022, Simon, a 35-year-old Black ex-convict, was stabbed at the Harlem bodega by Alba, a 61-year-old Dominican immigrant, after the clerk got into a verbal fight with Simon’s girlfriend over the fact that she refused to pay for a bag of chips and was allegedly attempting to steal them, according to footage.
Simon then forced his way behind the counter where Alba was and the ex-convict shoved him and allegedly threatened his life. This prompted a dispute that resulted in Simon’s murder and the clerk’s arrest when he contacted the police to report what happened.
Even though Alba insisted that he acted in self-defense, Bragg accused the clerk of second-degree murder and demanded a hefty bond of $500,000. However, the court reduced it to $250,000.
Alba was then 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.
Democrat Mayor Eric Adams and former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton were among those who criticized the typically soft-on-crime DA for imprisoning a working man who appeared to be defending himself and his store from a robbery after Bragg decided to charge Alba with murder.
Alba was detained at Rikers Island for six days before being released when the prosecution reduced his bail to $50,000.
“My heart goes out to the employee who was in the store doing his job,” Adams said.
“I am hoping that we take all of that into consideration, as this hard-working New Yorker was doing his job, and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him,” he continued.
Following the public outcry, Bragg ultimately dropped the charges on July 19th, conceding that there was not enough evidence to show the employee “was not justified in his use of deadly physical force,” according to a motion from his office.
Along with Bragg, the complaint holds the city and Department of Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina “responsible for the unconstitutional conditions of confinement and inadequate medical care at Rikers Island.”
Prior to launching the complaint, Alba and his attorneys attempted to reach an unfruitful pre-lawsuit settlement when they first declared their intention to sue in February, according to Rich Cardinale, an attorney representing the former Bodega employee.
Cardinale stated that Alba is requesting compensatory and punitive damages, the amount of which will be decided by a jury. The cost was not mentioned in the court documents.
The Manhattan DA is “is treating people differently and he’s hurting people,” Cardinale told the press.
“We can’t keep pitting ourselves against each other based on race,” he continued.
A DA’s office representative in Manhattan declined to comment.
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