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Manhattan DA Called to Drop Bodega Clerk’s Murder Charge in ‘Self-Defense’ Killing

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Pleas are growing louder to drop the murder charge against the New York City bodega clerk accused of killing a man who attacked him behind the counter, as the district attorney’s office continues to weigh the evidence in the case.

Those who support Jose Alba say that new surveillance video showing the shocking incident could help the worker be cleared of charges. That message was echoed Sunday in the Bronx, where United Bodegas of America made publicly urged Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg drop all charges against the clerk.

“The Alba family does not have the money for a defense attorney, and it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars to pursue murder charges against a hard working man with no known criminal record. We are hopeful that DA Braggs will listen and understand UBA’s plea to drop all charges,” said Fernando Mateo, spokesperson for UBA.

The group representing bodegas across the five boroughs has already spoken with Bragg, but hope a face-to-face meeting on Tuesday will advance their progress in seeing Alba cleared of all charges.

A spokesperson for Bragg said his office was “continuing to review the evidence and the investigation is ongoing.”

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Alba was released Thursday after spending almost a week at Riker’s Island. His bail was lowered from a quarter of a million dollars down to $50,000. As part of his release, Alba was forced to surrender his passport, remain in the five boroughs and submit to electronic monitoring.

The 61-year-old is facing murder charges after police said he fatally stabbed a man inside a Washington Heights convenience store. There is growing outrage regarding his arrest, however, with many left wondering: Was it murder or self-defense?

Surveillance video from inside the Blue Moon Convenience Store on Broadway, near 139th Street, shows 35-year-old Austin Simon storm behind the counter and shove Alba into a wall. Moments later, a fight breaks out, and Alba grabs a knife, stabbing Simon at least three times.

Surveillance video from inside the Blue Moon Convenience Store shows 35-year-old Austin Simon storm behind the counter before his fatal stabbing. News 4’s Jessica Cunnington reports.

Investigators said the brawl started after Simon’s girlfriend tried paying for a bag of chips, but her card was declined.

EMS crews transported Simon to Harlem Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, who was among the many who stopped by the bodega throughout the day on Thursday, said that it appeared Alba was acting in self-defense

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“It’s time for New Yorkers and Americans to start standing up for people following the law. And that’s what I’m going to do,” the mayor said on Thursday.

Adams’ words drew praise at the UBA press conference Sunday, where Mateo thanked the mayor for “standing with us.”

The case has garnered international headlines. Those who knew the store employee said they believe that Alba was simply defending himself.

“To me, I know him personally, he lives in my building. He’s the kindest man I ever met, if he says it’s self-defense, it is, to me,” said Chris Sanchez, who said he’s known Alba most of his life. “I would’ve done the same thing.”

In a statement, the Neighborhood Defender Service — which is defending Alba — said that they “continue to investigate this case and gather evidence in Mr. Alba’s defense. The video in this case speaks for itself: Mr. Alba was simply doing his job when he was aggressively cornered by a much younger and bigger man.”

The next court date is scheduled for July 20.

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Source: NBC New York

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