The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office filed a motion Tuesday to drop all charges against 61-year-old Jose Alba, the bodega owner who fatally stabbed 35-year-old Austin Simon during an altercation inside his store earlier this month.
The New York Times reports that following an investigation into the incident, the D.A.’s Office wrote in its filing that “a homicide case against Alba could not be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Alba was charged with second-degree murder for stabbing Simon three times during an altercation stemming from an alleged disagreement over a bag of potato chips. Simon, who was unarmed at the time, confronted Alba by going behind the counter and shoving him after he and Simon’s girlfriend got into argument over payment for a bag of potato chips for her 10-year-old daughter.
Prosecutors initially requested a $500,000 bail, claiming Alba allegedly planned an upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic, but a judge decided to hold him on $250,000 bail. As footage of the incident surfaced, a judge lowered his bail to $50,000 after Alba agreed to hand over his passport and wear an electronic monitoring device. Alba was released the same day as his boss and relatives were able to cover the $5,000 minimum required for his release on a bail bond.
New York City mayor Eric Adams publicly sided with Alba, but refused to question the charges handed down by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg.
“We are all clearly disappointed and can’t understand how it’s OK to take an unarmed man’s life,” Austin Simon’s cousin Candra said in response to the filing. “This decision sets a dangerous precedent.”