It’s nothing to Bragg about. The delayed decision by the Manhattan DA to drop the murder charges against bodega clerk Jose Alba still doesn’t get the criminal-coddling prosecutor back on the side of fairness and common sense.
It was a blatant injustice to charge Alba in the first place. Had a judge not sensibly reduced the onerous bail Alvin Bragg demanded, Alba would have spent nearly three weeks in the hellish confines of Rikers Island simply because he defended himself.
And why did it take so long for Bragg to reverse himself? After all, the DA’s version of events in the July 1 incident was quickly undercut by clear security videos from the bodega where the fight took place.
The videos, which The Post published, showed Alba trying to calm down career criminal Austin Simon, 35, saying, “Papa, I don’t want a problem, Papa.”
Yet Simon, with 27 previous arrests, went behind the store counter in a rage and pushed the 61-year-old Alba down and into a corner, with no way out. As the two men scuffled, Alba reached for a knife on a shelf and stabbed Simon to death.
That pattern is cited in Bragg’s Tuesday motion to dismiss, including that Alba could have had a good argument at trial in claiming he was acting in self-defense during the fatal encounter.
“One potential defense is that Alba reasonably believed that Simon was about to use deadly physical force,” the dismissal memo noted. It added that “a person may use deadly physical force to defend oneself if the person reasonably believes that another person is using or about to use deadly physical force.”
The motion also admits that “Simon’s conduct in entering the store’s small, private area, throwing Alba against the wall to a place he could not escape, and grabbing him by the collar could inspire deep fear in an older and shorter man as to what might be in store next,” the motion continued.
It added that “Alba was permitted to use deadly physical force” even if he just reasonably believed Simon intended to rob the store.
All these elements and laws were previously known and add up to an obvious case of self-defense, yet Bragg’s first instinct was to call it second-degree murder, the maximum possible charge that does not involve planning and premeditation.
The city is being torn to pieces by actual violent criminals that Bragg too often finds a reason not to prosecute, but he throws the book at an innocent man defending himself. These are the warped actions of an ideologically blinded prosecutor who believes the criminal justice system is the problem, not those who commit crimes.
Charge real criminals
But there’s another injustice in this case he also needs to set right. Simon’s girlfriend is seen on the video taking a knife out of her purse and stabbing Alba while the two men scuffled.
When the case emerged, the Bragg assistant handling the case, Jennifer Sigall, said the girlfriend was “justified in stabbing Mr. Alba, using force to stop his assault on the victim,” according to a report obtained by Fox News.
That never made a whit of sense, and the decision to recognize that a self-defense claim would probably make it impossible to convict Alba should result in the unidentified girlfriend being charged. Because Simon is no longer the “victim” in the eyes of the DA, the logical next step is to conclude that the girlfriend took part in the unprovoked attack on Alba, the real victim.
A bodega association deserves credit for pushing Bragg to drop the charges, as do Mayor Adams and the bipartisan group of City Council members who took Alba’s side. But Gov. Hochul, by remaining silent, missed another opportunity to prove she really does care about making New York safe again.
Her being AWOL in the case is especially noteworthy when the city is engulfed in a summer of blood and trouble. The NYPD report that major crimes are up 37% this year captures the most egregious misconduct, from murder to robbery to rape to car theft.
But what the report can’t capture is the widespread fear of the randomness of mayhem and violence. Whether it’s a vagrant muttering to himself on a subway platform or a gangster gunfight at midday, there is a pervasive feeling that you could be a victim almost any time in any place.
The crossfire casualties alone could be a new crime category in the way they spread fear well beyond an actual location.
Take the case of a mother and daughter visiting from San Antonio who were caught in just such a scenario Sunday evening, making them two of the at least 12 people shot that day. Beatriz Jimenez and her 13-year-old daughter, Jehieli Duran, had entered a Bronx store when bullets shattered a window, slightly wounding both.
“I was very excited to visit New York,” the teen told The Post. “And, well, it was the first day we got here, and it’s just kind of like changed my perspective on New York.”
She’s not alone. A lot of people are having their perspectives on New York changed, and precious few of them are changing for the better. That’s what rampant crime does to a city.
It might help if, for a change, Alvin Bragg could find some real criminals and put them in jail. After all, that’s his job.
Border disorder hits home
The call by Mayor Adams for the feds to help fund the care of illegal immigrants showing up in the city’s shelter system brings home the disaster the Biden administration is causing at the southern border.
The collapse of enforcement has allowed millions of people to come into America illegally or with the thin promise to show up for their asylum-claim hearing. Meanwhile, they have been bused and flown around the country, dumped off without so much as a heads-up from Washington.
The short-term funding is the visible tip of an intentional crisis that will last for years if not decades.
Meanwhile, VP Kamala Harris continues to search for the “root causes” of this mass migration. Anyone know how she’s doing?
Vote DeSantis for… veep?
Reader James Barends has a thought on the 2024 election, writing: “Gov DeSantis is going to be President and will be excellent, but the smart thing for him and probably the best thing for the country is for him to be VP and follow Donald Trump with 8 years of his own.
“Have them duke it out in a primary but not in a way that interferes with DeSantis as VP. Since Trump from Day One is term limited, DeSantis is the success in the wings learning the ropes. And if Trump specifically states DeSantis is there to take over, it will be a potent ticket but even stronger Administration.”
Bill de Blasio Drops Bid for N.Y. House Seat
Never say there’s no good news!