Adams again defends bodega worker on murder charges, stops short of criticizing DA Bragg

Mayor Eric Adams standing outside of the Blue Moon Convenience Store where a bodega worker allegedly stabbed a man to death, after the man attacked him. Thursday, July 7, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

In a radio interview Friday morning, Mayor Eric Adams again defended bodega worker Jose Alba after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg hit him with second-degree murder charges for stabbing a man to death who appeared to be attacking him.

The mayor, however, again stopped short of criticizing Bragg himself and said it isn’t his “role” to interfere with police and district attorney investigations.

“Like I stated that DAs have a non-mandate. No one can mandate how they determine to prosecute a case and my role is never to interfere with the police. I’ve never called the police since to tell police to make an arrest, not make an arrest. I don’t do that, it’s independent. The DAs are independent,” Adams said in the WABC interview.

“My role is a very clear one. As the mayor of the city, our hard-working New Yorkers, I’m going to stand up for them. I don’t believe hard-working New Yorkers on the subways, in their places of business and now schools, they should not be the victims of violence. I believe there’s far too many cases where we’re spending time defending people who commit crimes. I’m going to defend New Yorkers who are doing the right things,” he added.

According to police – and surveillance video of the incident – it all went down when Austin Simon, 35, entered the Blue Moon Convenience Store in Hamilton Heights, stormed behind the counter and pushed Alba into a wall. A fight ensued, leading Alba to grab a knife and stab Simon at least three times.

Police said the confrontation was sparked after Simon’s girlfriend’s EBT card was declined when she was trying to buy potato chips for her daughter.

Alba’s family and many who know him are outraged by the murder charges, arguing that he was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Simon.

Alba returned home Thursday night following nearly a week spent on Rikers Island after a Manhattan judge initially set his bail at $250,000, although Bragg had requested $500,000, but then ultimately lowered it to $50,000 Thursday. Alba posted $5,000, a partially secured bond, equal to 10 percent of the amount set by the judge, according to the Manhattan DA’s office.

Adams first made the comments defending Alba twice Thursday, once during an unrelated press conference and again amidst an impromptu stop at the bodega where the incident occurred.  A mostly conservative group of City Councilmembers joined Adams in his defense of Alba Thursday, demanding Bragg drop the murder charges.

In a statement, Bragg’s office said they requested such high bail because they feared Alba would flee to the Dominican Republic, where many of his family members live. Alba was released after he agreed to surrender his passport, not leave the five boroughs and wear an electronic ankle monitor. 

Manhattan DA spokesman Douglas Cohen declined to respond directly to the mayor’s statements supporting Alba when PoliticsNY reached out for comment, instead only saying, “we are continuing to review the evidence and the investigation is ongoing,”

Alba’s next court date was set for July 20.

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