Former bodega employee, Jose Alba, is taking legal action against District Attorney Alvin Bragg, NYPD, and other officials following his arrest and wrongful prosecution for acting in self-defense. The incident, which occurred on July 1, 2022, involved Alba being assaulted by Austin Simon and his partner, Tina Lee. Alba’s lawsuit, submitted to the Southern District of New York, claims his prosecution was influenced by the Manhattan district attorney’s approach towards “racial equity”. He alleges that this policy led to racial bias against certain defendants.
The lawsuit details that despite video evidence showing Simon and Lee as the initial culprits, Alba was the one detained and falsely charged. It further states that Bragg’s attempt to establish unbiased justice has ironically led to racial discrimination in practice. Also named in the suit are Department of Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina and other officials, holding them accountable for Alba’s conditions and medical treatment at Rikers Island.
Richard Cardinale, Alba’s lawyer, stated that their goal is to obtain justice, compensatory, and punitive damages from the city. NYC’s Law Department mentioned they will assess the lawsuit once formally notified.
Alba’s arrest garnered widespread attention when he was charged with second-degree murder after defending himself from an assault by Simon at the Blue Moon store in Manhattan. Video evidence depicted Alba acting in self-defense, but he was still detained at Riker’s Island and slapped with a substantial bail, leading to significant public outcry.
The complaint also emphasizes the public backlash against Bragg’s decision, particularly given the existing challenges with law enforcement in the city. In defense, Bragg mentioned the ongoing investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, Alba remained at Rikers Island, uncertain about his future.
The decision to charge Alba faced heavy criticism, especially after videos indicated that he had only retaliated after being attacked. Prominent figures like NYC Mayor Eric Adams and former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton publicly stated that Alba’s actions were self-defense against a potential life-threatening situation or robbery.
Due to overwhelming public demand, the charges against Alba were finally dropped on July 19, 2022.
Earlier in February, Alba had expressed his intent to sue the city. Initial discussions were aimed at a pre-lawsuit settlement, but no agreement was reached. Cardinale asserts that their case is robust, primarily as it leverages official documents and statements from the previous criminal case, dismissing any baseless claims.