A Hamilton Heights bodega worker is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing a man to death after the man confronted and pushed him behind the counter over a bag of potato chips.
Jose Alba, a 62-year-old deli clerk is accused of stabbing and killing 37-year-old Austin Simon, but recently released video footage shows that Adams was just doing his job when the victim approached him.
Video Appears to Show Alba Stabbing Simon in Self-Defense
According to the NYPD, it was around 11 pm on July 1 when Simon's girlfriend and her young daughter entered the Bluemoon Convenient Store in Harlem where Alba has worked behind the counter for decades.
The girlfriend, who has not been publicly named, wanted to buy a bag of chips for her daughter but her card declined, said police. Prosecutors said the clerk then snatched the snack back from the child. At that point, she allegedly ran out of the store to get her boyfriend. What happens next was captured on surveillance footage inside the store.
In it, Simon is seen suddenly entering the space behind the counter where Mr Alba is serving customers. He is seen confronting Alba and violently shoves him against the shelves, causing him to fall back and land in a chair by the wall.
Moments later, the bodega worker grabs a knife and begins to stab Mr Simon. The two men struggle with much of the chaos unfolding off camera. Alba then appears back on the camera a few seconds later covered in blood and holding the bloodied knife.
The following video is graphic in nature. Viewer discretion is advised.
During the incident, Simon's girlfriend also produced her own knife and stabbed Mr Alba in the arm, police said. Simon was rushed to hospital where he died from his injuries while Alba was arrested on the scene and charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
Simon Had a Criminal History While Alba Had a Clean Record
On Tuesday, a judge ordered Alba to be held at Rikers Island on $250,000 bond. He was released on Thursday after the judge agreed to reduce his bail to $50,000. Records show that Simon has had multiple brushes with the law and was on parole at the time for allegedly attacking a police officer. Meanwhile, Alba had no criminal history.
The case has sparked uproar from Mr Alba's family as well as members of the community who say the well-loved store worker with no criminal record had no choice when he came under attack.
"It was either him or the guy at the moment," Mr Alba's daughter Yulissa told The New York Post. "He's never hurt anybody. He's never had an altercation where he had to defend himself. This is the first time for him."
Mayor Eric Adams has also come out in support of Mr Alba saying his "heart goes out for this hard-working, honest New Yorker" in a press conference on Thursday.
"My heart goes out for this 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," he said.
But many, including Mayor Eric Adams, are defending the worker's actions as self-defense, CBS2's Ali Bauman reported Thursday.
The 51-year-old deli clerk is accused of stabbing and killing 37-year-old Austin Simon, but the surveillance video is not so black and white. Adams said it shows the suspect was doing his job when the victim approached him inappropriately.