A former New York City bodega clerk sued progressive Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg on Friday for racial discrimination after he sent him to Rikers Island and charged him with second-degree murder for his alleged self-defense stabbing before dropping the charges.
Jose Alba, a Dominican immigrant, fatally stabbed 35-year-old Austin Simon repeatedly after he was attacked behind the counter of his bodega. The assailant first advanced on Alba then violently shoved him against a wall after his girlfriend’s credit card was rejected while trying to buy a bag of chips. A struggle ensued between the two men, according to video. Simon’s girlfriend then pulled a knife from her purse and attempted to grab Alba’s arm as he stabbed her boyfriend. She then stabbed Alba.
In a decision that was heavily criticized by bodega workers and owners and the Dominican community, Bragg sent 61-year-old Alba to Riker’s Island and charged him with second-degree murder in the death of Simon. Bragg first requested Alba’s bail be set at $500,000 before it was lowered to $50,000 in response to criticism from the community. He was later released on a $5,000 bail bond. The charges against Alba were then dismissed, with Bragg’s office saying that “a homicide case against Alba could not be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt” after further investigation.
“New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg and/or his subordinates, following Bragg’s policy to achieve ‘racial equity’ in the Manhattan criminal justice system, charged Plaintiff with murder in the second degree and asked for high bail at Plaintiff’s arraignment,” the complaint obtained by Fox News states.
Alba filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, accusing Bragg of wrongfully prosecuting him. Bragg, NYPD Detective William Garcia, and unidentified arresting officers and NYPD detectives were named as defendants in the case.
“Despite the fact that Simon and Lee were the initial aggressors, it was Plaintiff who was arrested, incarcerated, and wrongfully prosecuted,” the lawsuit states. “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.”
“Defensively, Bragg responded that he was still investigating the incident, while Plaintiff, who could not pay the high bail for murder in the second degree, suffered at Rikers Island, unaware whether he was facing a long prison sentence for lawful self-defense,” the complaint added.
Besides Bragg, some organizations were accused of a applying a racial double standard amid Alba’s situation. GoFundMe, for example, hosted a fundraising page for a Minneapolis gunman who was killed by the police after firing into his neighbor’s apartment after deleting a page set up to raise money Alba. The company removed the legal defense fund page for Alba, saying: “Our terms of service prohibit fundraising for the legal defense of a violent crime. At this time, the fundraiser has been removed and all donors have been refunded.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams previously defended Alba, saying at a news conference in the aftermath of the incident that his “heart goes out” to the “hard-working, honest New Yorker that was doing his job in his place of business, where a person came in and went behind the counter and attacked him.”
Fransisco Marte, the president of the Bodega and Small Business Group, said Alba “was a victim in this incident and should never have been charged.” Marte put up his house to cover Alba’s bail.