Former bodega worker, Jose Alba, who had murder charges dropped after evidence revealed he acted in self-defense, is now suing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the New York Police Department (NYPD) for alleged civil rights violations. Filed on Friday in the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit contends that Alba was wrongfully prosecuted under the district attorney’s “racial equity” policies.
According to the complaint, Bragg’s pursuit of racial equity in the criminal justice system led to Alba being charged with second-degree murder and facing high bail during his arraignment. The document asserts that despite Austin Simon and Tina Lee initiating the confrontation on July 1, 2022, it was Alba who was arrested, incarcerated, and unjustly prosecuted.
The lawsuit also targets NYPD Detective William Garcia and unnamed arresting officers and detectives, asserting that Bragg’s policies inadvertently resulted in discriminatory practices based on race against certain defendants.
Furthermore, the complaint names Department of Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina and other DOC officials as defendants, holding them responsible for the allegedly unconstitutional conditions at Rikers Island, where Alba was initially held.
Alba’s attorney, Richard Cardinale, emphasized his client’s pursuit of justice and compensation for damages against the city. The city’s Law Department stated it would review the case and respond accordingly.
Alba’s case gained national attention after he was charged with second-degree murder for defending himself against an attack by Simon at the Blue Moon convenience store. Despite claiming self-defense, Alba was sent to Rikers Island with a $250,000 bail, sparking outrage in the Dominican community.
The lawsuit contends that Bragg’s racial equity policies, despite their well-intentioned goal, had an unintended discriminatory impact on Alba. The complaint refers to the widespread condemnation faced by Bragg’s office, including criticism from Mayor Eric Adams and former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, both asserting that Alba acted in self-defense.
The district attorney dropped the murder charges on July 19, 2022, under intense public pressure and after surveillance footage strongly suggested that Alba had used a knife to defend himself only after being attacked.
Alba had initially expressed his intent to sue the city in February, with the case delayed while negotiations for a pre-lawsuit settlement took place. However, an agreement was not reached, leading to the filing of the lawsuit.
JUST IN: Bodega clerk Jose Alba sues Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg for RACIAL DISCRIMINATION after he was put in Rikers Island for ki-ling attacker in self defense.
Suit claims it was “to push prosecutor’s ‘EQUITY’ agenda”..
“While in theory, Bragg’s ‘racial equity’ policies are a… pic.twitter.com/tlrp5Smlnj
— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) October 1, 2023
According to Cardinale, the strength of the case lies in the defendants’ own documents, statements, and papers filed in the criminal case. The District Attorney’s Office has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Alvin Bragg’s “racial equity” policies have drawn criticism for their impact on prosecutorial decisions, with detractors arguing it reflects a soft-on-crime approach as Manhattan’s top prosecutor.
Fox News report from when Alba’s charges were dropped and video of the original incident: