(NewsNation) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is coming to the defense of a Manhattan bodega worker accused of fatally stabbing a man.
Authorities released Jose Alba, 61, from Rikers Island after his family posted bail in connection to the death of 35-year-old Austin Simon.
On July 1, a criminal complaint says a woman and her 10-year-old daughter went into a bodega at around 11 p.m. for some snacks, but the woman’s electronic benefits card was denied. Officials say this sparked an argument between her and Alba, who was working as the bodega’s cashier at the time.
The woman told authorities Alba snatched the snacks away from her 10-year-old girl, so she left the store and told her boyfriend, Simon, about Alba.
That’s when police say Simon confronted Alba, pushed him and tried to steer Alba away from behind the counter. According to investigators, Alba picked up a knife and stabbed Simon in the neck and chest until the woman pulled her own knife.
Alba’s family has maintained his innocence, insisting that he acted in self-defense. The man’s attorney told NewsNation-affiliate PIX11 video evidence of the incident “speaks for itself.”
The surveillance footage obtained by PIX11 News shows Simon shoving Alba into a chair behind the bodega counter and standing over him while appearing to shout. Video shows Alba grab the knife and stab Simon.
“Mr. Alba was simply doing his job when he was aggressively cornered by a much younger and bigger man,” Neighborhood Defender Service wrote in a statement.
Alba’s lawyers say he has lived in New York City for 35 years and has been a constant form of support for his family.
Mayor Eric Adams spoke about Alba’s case Thursday. He said he cannot dictate how the Manhattan District Attorney prosecutes crime, but that his “heart goes out” to Alba.
“I am hoping that we take all of that into consideration, as this hard-working New Yorker was doing his job and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him,” Adams said. “I support hard-working, innocent people that are doing their job. And I saw him as a hard-working, innocent New Yorker that a person went behind the counter and attacked him.”
The investigation into the deadly stabbing is continuing.
PIX11 News contributed to this report.