https://www.theblaze.com/news/nyc-deli-worker-murder-charge

A 51-year-old New York City deli worker was charged with murder after security video showed him allegedly stabbing to death a man who physically attacked him behind the store’s counter last week.

But the deli owner says his employee — who was being held Tuesday in Rikers Island on $250,000 bail, the New York Post reported — acted in self-defense.


What are the details?

A woman tried to use a benefits card to buy potato chips for her 10-year-old daughter around 11 p.m. Friday at the Bluemoon Convenient Store in Harlem on Broadway near West 139th Street, the New York Daily News reported.

The transaction was declined, the Daily News said, citing the criminal complaint.

Amid an argument, prosecutors said deli worker Jose Alba reached over the counter, grabbed the girl’s hand, and yanked the chips away, the paper reported.

Alba’s boss — deli owner Maad Ahmad — told the Daily News the mom became enraged: “The lady threw everything from the counter and the [benefits card reader] machine, too. She said, ‘I’m going to get my man, and he’s going to get you.’”

The mother then came back inside the deli with 37-year-old Austin Simon, who got behind the store’s counter to confront Alba, the paper said.

Security video shows Simon shoving Alba into product shelves, after which Alba — sporting a baseball cap, glasses, and a white mustache and beard — appears to slide down the shelves into a seated position.


Image source: TeaTenders video screenshot

The Daily News said Simon actually shoved Alba hard into a chair that hit the merchandise shelves.

“Jose said … ‘I don’t want any problems,’” deli owner Ahmad recounted to the paper.

Simon then grabs Alba by the neck, pulls him up, and begins to walk him out of the area behind the counter.


Image source: TeaTenders video screenshot

With that, Alba grabs a knife that the paper said was stashed behind the counter and starts fighting back.

“He wanted me to come apologize to the girl,” Alba told a New York City police detective, according to the Daily News. “I took the knife we use to open boxes, and I stabbed him.”


Image source: TeaTenders video screenshot

Deli owner Ahmad added to the paper that Simon “pushed Jose first. Jose was just defending himself.”

The Daily News said Alba stabbed Simon at least five times in the neck and chest.


Image source: TeaTenders video screenshot


Image source: TeaTenders video screenshot

The paper — citing the criminal complaint — added that Simon’s girlfriend grabbed a knife from her purse and stabbed Alba in the arm.

Video shows Alba checking out what appears to be stab wound on his bloody left arm.


Image source: TeaTenders video screenshot

“Isn’t she being charged, too?” deli owner Ahmad wondered, according to the Daily News, which added that police confirmed only Alba was arrested.

Here’s security video of the fight. Content warning: Graphic video.

What happened next?

EMS crews took Simon to Harlem Hospital where he was pronounced dead, WNBC-TV reported.

Alba was arraigned Saturday on a second-degree murder charge, the Daily News said. He also was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, police told WNBC, adding that Alba is due back in court Thursday.

The Daily News said a spokesman for the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg didn’t say why Alba wasn’t charged with a lesser offense given video showing Simon acting aggressively.

While Alba claimed self-defense, the Daily News — citing a police source familiar with the case — said investigators believe Alba and Simon were equally involved in the conflict.

Lawyers weigh in

Two lawyers told the Daily News the case against Alba is far from a sure thing.

“Did he go overboard? Some people will say no,” defense lawyer and law professor Hermann Walz told the paper. “Are 12 people going to say this guy’s a murderer? I don’t think so.”

Criminal attorney Dmitry Shakhnevich added to the Daily News that Alba’s testimony could decide the case: “Will the defendant be able to testify that this person did something, acted in some way … that necessitated a response with equal force? That will be the question.”

Alba faces 25 years to life if convicted, the paper said, adding that a lawyer with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem represented Alba at his arraignment.

Anything else?

A friend described Alba as a father of three sons and a hard worker whose job often forces him into difficult situations, the Daily News said.

“That bodega is open all hours, and a lot of weird people come in,” the friend told the paper. “Jose had to be tough. Let’s be real. That guy came around the counter to do what?”

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