The Manhattan district attorney dropped a murder charge against Jose Alba, a 61-year-old bodega clerk who fatally stabbed a customer after the customer attacked him, USA Today reports. Alba was arrested, leading to weeks of protest. Alba stabbed Austin Simon, 35, on the evening of July 1. Simon was unarmed during the incident. Police said that Simon went behind the counter and pushed Alba. Alba was then arrested on a second-degree murder charge. Prosecutors said they were unable to prove that Alba was unjustified in his use of deadly physical force.
The argument began because Simon believed that Alba was being harsh to his girlfriend’s daughter. According to video footage, Simon’s girlfriend was buying a snack for her daughter, but her card payment declined. Alba then pulled the snack out of the girl’s hands. Simon’s girlfriend then knocked items off of the counter and repeatedly yelled expletives at Alba. After the girlfriend left and told Simon what happened, Simon entered the store. Simon went behind the counter, pushed Alba against the wall and lifted him by his shirt collar. Alba grabbed a knife off of the shelf and stabbed Simon in the heart, lung and jugular vein, killing Simon. Alba was then held in jail but was later released on a $5,000 bond. The case caught the attention of Mayor Eric Adams, who said the decision to release Alba was the right thing to do.