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Arizona Refuses To Extradite NYC Murder Suspect; Testimony Begins In Manslaughter Trial of "Rust" Armorer; Survey Finds U.S. Army Struggling To Combat Extremism; Biden Meets With Navalny's Widow & Daughter In California; China To Send New Pandas To San Diego Zoo. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 14:30   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Officials in two states are now in a war of words over a murder suspect. The 26-year-old currently being held in Arizona where he's accused of stabbing to women. He's also accused of killing a woman in New York City.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yes, officials there have requested his extradition, but the Maricopa County district attorney is flat-out refusing to do so.

CNN national correspondent, Brynn Gingras, is here to explain.

Brynn, what is the issue here with Maricopa County exactly? What are they saying about this?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's clear there's some political maneuvering that's going on here, at least political posturing Boris.

But let's first say it is very common practice for a jurisdiction who is holding a criminal to extradite a criminal to a different jurisdiction where there are -- a more serious criminal offense that happens. So this is a really in itself, a little odd, but that's just beside the point.

Well, get to what the Maricopa County attorney said. But first, let's talk about this man, 26-year-old, Raad Almansoori.

Now, he was wanted in New York City for a killing that police say happened in a hotel here earlier this month. Then police say he hopped on a plane, went to Arizona.

And that's where, as you guys just laid out for the viewers, he's accused of stabbing two separate women in two separate incidents. Both of those women have survived.

Now, he was picked up by Arizona authorities. Authorities say he has admitted to all those crimes. Well, in that same news conference, the Maricopa County attorney came

forward saying she's not going to work with NYPD officials for that extradition to New York on a possible murder charge.

And here's why.


RACHEL MITCHELL, MARICOPA COUNTRY ATTORNEY: We will not be agreeing to extradition. Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by the Manhattan D.A. there, Alvin Bragg, I think it's safer to keep him here.

And keep him in custody so that he cannot be out doing this to individuals either in our state, county or anywhere in the United States.


GINGRAS: Now, as you can see, an overt dig there on the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who quickly responded in a statement through his spokesperson.

Saying, "New York's murder rate is less than half that of Phoenix, Arizona, because of the hard work of the NYPD and all of our law enforcement partners. It is a slap in the face to them and to the victim in our case to refuse to allow us to seek justice and full accountability for a New Yorker's death."

And now Bragg saying also that she's playing politics here. Of course, Mitchell is a long-time Republican. Bragg is a Democrat. He's been sort of a political punching bag for Republicans for being soft on crime in New York City.

But also, of course, hey, guys, as you know, he is about to go to trial next month. The defendant in that case is the former president. So certainly it is a bit heated over this one murder case -- guys?

SANCHEZ: Brynn Gingrass, thanks so much for the update.

Right now, in New Mexico, opening statements just wrapped and testimony is underway in the involuntary manslaughter trial for the armorer on the set of the film, "Rust."

DEAN: Prosecutors say Hannah Gutierrez-Reed repeatedly violated safety protocols leading to the death of cinematographer, Halayna Hutchins, who was struck by a live round of ammunition, ammunition fired from a prop gun that was held by the actor, Alec Baldwin.

CNN security correspondent, Josh Campbell, is following the trial.

And, Josh, a pretty remarkable revelation just now from prosecutors. What can you tell us?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a really interesting development. Our team has reported since early on that live rounds of ammunition were found on the set of that movie by investigators.

it's one thing to hear that. It's another to see for yourself. Take a look at this government exhibit that prosecutors just offer. They're essentially telling the judge that in this picture, one thing here is not like the others.

What's called out there in that red box is a live round of ammunition that was found in a box of dummy rounds that are typically used on movie sets. And they really focused on the color there, saying you could see the difference between the silver of the live round and the gold on the other rounds.

Saying that someone like Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was the armor, a weapons expert, should have known the difference.

Now what prosecutors did is they took it a step further. They went and collected all the imagery that they could find from the set of that movie.

Here's what they discovered,


JASON LEWIS, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: We were able to identify several points in time for the cartridges with a silver primer and a shiny brass cartridge ended up being spotted inside of the gun belts and bandoleers that the cast members were wearing on the set.

There was one occasion where a live round was sitting right on Mr. Gutierrez's lap and she failed to identify it.


CAMPBELL: So again, as you look at that image there, you could tell the difference, saying that one of these rounds was actually seen on her lap and, as the armorer, she couldn't tell the difference there, showing this case of negligence that they're trying to prove.

Now, for her part, her attorney has indicated that -- he disputed this notion that all of the live rounds were a different color than the dummy rounds.

He's also taking his case against the production company in this culture of unsafe practices on the set, even pointing the finger directly at Alec Baldwin himself.

Have a listen.


JASON BOWLES, ATTORNEY FOR HANNAH GUTIERREZ-REED: Do you know what the primary thing was here? It was rush, get this done so we can get the money. And that's all on production.

And Mr. Baldwin, he violated some of the most basic gun safety rules you can ever learn. From a young age, we all learned you don't point a gun at somebody ever unless you want to shoot him.


CAMPBELL: Gutierrez-Reed's attorney saying that she was the least powerful person, quote, "on that set. She is being unfairly targeted."

Instead of going after the production team, he says that prosecutors are going after this 24-year-old, showing some imbalance there.

Now the court was just in a break. That will be resuming here almost from now. And we will continue to cover this. But just remarkable developments in court today -- you guys?

DEAN: No doubt about it. Wow.

All right. Josh Campbell for us. Thanks so much for that reporting.

Still ahead, the Pentagon has made it a priority to combat extremism in its ranks. But a new survey shows military leaders have a lot of work to do.


And later, a lot of us would love to have a four-day work week. And after the world's largest trial, it's not just a fantasy for a lot of people out there now. That's ahead on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.


DEAN: An alarming survey finds the U.S. Army is facing ongoing hurdles when it comes to combatting extremism among its servicemembers.

SANCHEZ: CNN, Pentagon correspondent, Oren Liebermann, is here to explain.

Oren, what did this survey find?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jessica and Boris, some very interesting results in this internal Army survey that was conducted in June of last year and obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.

So take a look at some of these results.

First, nearly half of the soldiers who responded, 43 percent there, incorrectly identified how to report extremist behavior, while more than a third, 36 percent, didn't know how to report extremist behavior.

This is a problem we've talked about before. The Pentagon tried to formalize a process for reporting extremist behavior. But knowing how to do that is something we can see from this survey, the Army and likely the whole military still struggles with at this point.

In terms of other results, one in five didn't realize that donating money to an organization that advocated the racial superiority of one group was prohibited as extremist behavior.


Perhaps more troublingly, one in 10 didn't realize or didn't identify that using force, violence or unlawful means to deprive individuals of their rights was prohibited.

Now this is only 20 percent and 10 percent. But still, as part of large organization -- and the active-duty Army has nearly a half a million soldiers -- those are still concerning numbers here.

Now the survey did issue recommendations, saying part of the problem here is the Army needs to better define what extremist behavior is. That's a recommendation the Army is working on. So there is progress here.

Perhaps the bigger challenge here, Jessica and Boris, the Pentagon, as CNN has previously reported, although talked a big game about going after extremism at the beginning of the Biden administration, those efforts were locked largely abandoned in the past couple of years as that entire effort came under repeated Republican attack.

SANCHEZ: Oren Liebermann, a really eye-opening survey.

DEAN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for the reporting, Oren.

We have breaking news just into CNN. CNN has learned that President Biden just met with the Navalny family in California.

Kevin Liptak has been following this for us.

Kevin, obviously, President Biden visiting California part of a fundraising swing as we get closer to really the core of the 2024 presidential election.

And it comes shortly after the death of Alexei Navalny, this Russian opposition leader that President Biden is having this really significant meeting.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, very significant meeting. And Navalny's widow and his daughter meeting President Biden here in San Francisco. Navalny's daughter is a student and at Stanford.

And we did just in the last couple of seconds get a description of this meeting from the white House that said that:

"President Biden expressed his heartfelt condolences to these family members of Alexei Navalny. He expressed his admiration for the opposition leader's extraordinary courage and his legacy of fighting against corruption."

And the president goes on to say that, "Alexei's legacy will carry on through people across Russia and around the world who are mourning his loss, fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights."

And the president, in this meeting. also affirmed his plans along with other countries to assign new sanctions on Russia tomorrow for the death of Alexei Navalny.

Of course, President Putin (sic) has assigned blame directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin for the opposition leader's death. He has called on Russia to provide a full accounting of how this death happened in a labor camp in Russia.

And certainly, President Biden planning for more forceful sanctions against Russia tomorrow as part of this.

In this statement that the White House says, he says, "These sanctions will be in response to Alexei's death, Russia's repression and aggression and it's brutal and illegal war in Ukraine."

And so certainly a remarkable moment for President Biden to be meeting with these family members here in San Francisco.

And certainly, President Biden has a lot of experience in meeting with those who are dealing with loss. But this loss obviously coming on an international stage at a global level.

And President Biden, very eager to show his support for this family as he prepares for this new package of sanctions.

DEAN: All right. Kevin Liptak, for us with that breaking news. Thanks so much.

We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: If you haven't heard, there's extremely exciting news. Panda diplomacy is making a comeback.

China is planning to send a new pair of pandas to the San Diego Zoo, the first time in two decades that Beijing has granted a new panda loan to the United States.

DEAN: Aren't pandas at the zoo the plot of "Anchorman 2?"


DEAN: Isn't there a bear at the zoo?


DEAN: CNN's Nick Watt is live in Los Angeles with more.

Nick, any idea on when this is supposed to happen?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I do feel a little bit like Will Ferrell covering this story.


WATT: But just bear with me

Yes. So listen, hopefully, those pandas are going to be back at San Diego Zoo by the end of the summer.

As you can imagine, there is some paperwork there's logistics, we are flying a couple of pandas halfway across the world. But, yes, they are back.

And it's a pretty big deal for a number of reasons. Panda diplomacy, you mentioned, Boris.

You know, we were almost in danger of having no pandas on U.S. soil for the first time in about 50 years, since the Nixon's trip to Beijing in '72 and those first two pandas that came over.

Of course we all remember the sad scenes of the three pandas leaving Washington, D.C., last year. A couple of pandas from Memphis also went home.

Because China doesn't give these pandas anymore. They are essentially leased or loaned to host countries.

So what -- which pandas are going to come back? That is also interesting. So Bai Yun, who is a panda that lived at San Diego Zoo for about 20-odd years, gave birth to a lot of cubs there.

One of the pandas coming to San Diego is going to be a female descendent of Bai Yun.

And the other big issue here is conservation, preservation. San Diego Zoo has been one of the places leading the world in artificial insemination for pandas. And also panda baby milk formula.

Both of those help panda breeding in captivity, and have helped pandas kind of bounce back.


You know, they were endangered. There were fewer than 1,000 left in the wild in China. Now that number is nearing 2,000.

So this is panda diplomacy. This is also conservation, preservation. And of course, also the chance just to see these fuzzy bears.

Listen, I could probably be saying anything right now. No one's really listening to me.


WATT: You're actually watching what's happening on the screen with the big bear.

I get it. I'm just suggesting --


SANCHEZ: It's just interesting to watch them chew.


SANCHEZ: They're adorable creatures.

DEAN: -- the formula.

WATT: Yes.


WATT: -- something that --

SANCHEZ: I knew that.

WATT: You did, man. You were listening. Well done.



DEAN: -- sell yourself short.


SANCHEZ: San Diego is doing very important work.

DEAN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Nick Watt, really --


DEAN: Yes, also doing important work.


DEAN: Thank you so much, Nick.

An historic moment in space exploration is just a few hours away. Ahead, more on the first landing of an American spacecraft craft on the moon in a half century. Stay with us.