ose Alba, a former worker at a New York City bodega, has initiated a lawsuit against District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the NYPD, alleging violation of his civil rights. Alba had previously faced murder charges which were subsequently dropped after surveillance footage revealed he was defending himself from an attack by Austin Simon, 35, and Tina Lee on July 1, 2022.
The legal complaint suggests that the decision to prosecute Alba was influenced by Bragg’s “racial equity” policies, which, despite aiming for unbiased justice, inadvertently resulted in racial discrimination against certain defendants. The lawsuit points to Alba’s arrest, incarceration, and legal prosecution despite video evidence showing Simon and Lee as the primary aggressors.
Moreover, the suit cites conditions at Rikers Island, naming Department of Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina among the defendants for alleged “unconstitutional conditions of confinement and inadequate medical care.”
Richard Cardinale, Alba’s legal representative, conveyed to media outlets that his client is pursuing justice, as well as financial damages from the city. The city’s Law Department stated it will analyze the lawsuit thoroughly upon receipt.
Alba’s case drew nationwide attention when he was accused of second-degree murder after an altercation with Simon at the Blue Moon convenience store in Manhattan. Surveillance footage captured Simon initiating the conflict. Alba’s subsequent imprisonment at Riker’s Island and a bail set at $250,000 incensed many, particularly in the Dominican community in NYC.
Following widespread public outcry and support from notable figures like Mayor Eric Adams and ex-NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, the charges against Alba were dismissed on July 19, 2022.
While Alba had indicated his intent to sue the city earlier in February, the lawsuit faced delays due to ongoing settlement discussions. Cardinale remarked that their case is strong as it leans heavily on the city’s own records and communications.
In his campaign for the district attorney role, Bragg emphasized the importance of racial equity. He notably opined that theft shouldn’t be prosecuted as it’s often a result of poverty, expressing this sentiment during an event with Young New Yorkers in May 2021. Since taking office, some critics argue that Bragg has been lenient in his approach to criminal justice in Manhattan.