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Elected Prosecutor in Arizona Refuses to Extradite NYC Murder Suspect for All the Wrong Reasons

County Attorney Rachel Mitchell is using politics and bad information to keep a New York murder suspect in Arizona. She must reverse course.


This piece originally appeared in The Arizona Republic.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell has refused to extradite Raad Almansoori to New York City, where he is charged with murder. That’s an extraordinary step, taken for political reasons and using bad information.

For the sake of public safety and the rule of law, she should reverse course immediately. 

We write as former New York prosecutors with a combined two decades of state and federal experience. We know disputes often arise between law enforcement officials in different states, especially when a defendant is alleged to have engaged in a cross-country spree of violence.

It’s that experience that makes us so concerned about Mitchell’s showy stunt.

Mitchell sets a dangerous precedent

First, it violates all the procedures that make law enforcement effective.

Mitchell says she won’t comply with a lawful request to extradite Almansoori because she doesn’t like the criminal justice policies in Manhattan or its district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

The defendant is charged with murder in New York and two nonlethal stabbings in Arizona.

It’s standard practice to send someone to stand trial for murder. It makes no public safety sense to protect someone from legal accountability for the most serious crime because, living two thousand miles away, you don’t like how police and prosecutors do their work in a different city.

Think of what that would mean.

A prosecutor in another state could refuse to send someone accused of murder in Phoenix to stand trial because they don’t like Arizona’s permissive firearms laws or use of the death penalty. That would be a recipe for chaos and lawlessness. 

There’s a reason the U.S. Constitution requires states to cooperate on extradition — and prosecutors across the country typically do so every day without fanfare. 

New York would not let Almansoori free

The second problem is that Mitchell’s move is based on a wild misimpression about criminal justice in New York.

Yes, Alvin Bragg has worked to reform some prosecution practices. But crime spiked in New York in 2020, before he became DA, as part of a national increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Bragg’s results since then speak for themselves. Manhattan is one of the safest communities in the country.

Crime there is dropping. In fact, in 2022 Manhattan had less than half the murder rate of Phoenix (five killed per 100,000 in Manhattan versus a tragic 13 in Phoenix, Maricopa County’s largest city). 

As of the end of 2023, shootings were down by more than 30% and homicides by more than 20% since Bragg took office on Jan. 1, 2022. In homicide cases, the office’s conviction rate is 81% — even as prosecutors handle more of these cases than before he entered office.

Mitchell also issued a statement that she was “concerned this defendant could be released, posing a serious threat to women in New York and Arizona.”

Her concern is misplaced.

In Manhattan, it would be highly unusual for a judge to release Almansoori from jail before trial. New York’s bail reform law expressly allows judges to set bail or order detention for people accused of murder — the charge Almansoori would likely face in Manhattan. 

Mitchell should reverse this political move

Third, and let’s be honest, Mitchell’s refusal is driven by politics.

Alvin Bragg, of course, is the career prosecutor who brought charges against former President Donald Trump. He is regularly vilified by conservative politicians and on Fox News and other partisan media.

Mitchell is a Republican and Bragg is a Democrat. That appears to be the real story, not puffed-up claims about New York City policies.

To be sure, prosecutors in different cities sometimes differ about when and where a defendant should stand trial. When they do, they work it out — rather than tossing out partisan barbs. 

Basic public safety is at risk here. A man stands accused of a vicious murder. Law enforcement authorities have properly asked for him to be brought to justice.

Instead, oddly, a prosecutor is acting like a defense attorney, working to shield him from facing accountability for a heinous alleged crime. That’s not about criminal justice policy — it’s an affront to the rule of law.

Rachel Mitchell should reverse course.