The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has quietly removed the mass release of evidence on the set of the movie “Rust” that the agency posted on its website last month.
In one of the movie industry’s unprecedented disasters, in October, actor Alec Baldwin fired what he thought was an unloaded .45 Long Colt revolver at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, killing her. The same bullet wounded director Joel Souza.
In the six months since then, one question has lingered about the shooting: How did a live bullet get into the gun in Baldwin’s hand?
The investigation is still open. But last month, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office took the unusual step of releasing a large number of police interview recordings, several hours of body and dash camera video, and hundreds of pages of incident reports and crime scene photos.
The launch caused immediate criticism of the Hutchins family. His attorney, Brian Panish, accused the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office of violating state law by releasing confidential images without giving the family a chance to review them first. Panish said the materials could also be used to bully Hutchins’ young son and asked police to remove them from his website.
“The first time Mr. Hutchins saw the disturbing and disturbing video of his dying wife lying on the church floor was on Radar Online, an internet website,” says a Panish letter dated April 27.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to multiple emails asking why the files were no longer accessible. The Hutchins family’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment about the evidence locker’s disappearance.
The footage shows a confusing and chaotic scene as police try to figure out why a young woman was dying, shot by a famous actor, on the set of a western movie.
“I’d rather it was a cholo shot on the side of the road,” a police officer said when he arrived on set. “It would be fucking easier.”
The videos capture some of the most harrowing scenes stemming from the shooting, including the moment Baldwin discovered Hutchins was dead, and distraught 25-year-old gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed struggling to understand how a gun was in her charge. she became lethal.
“I’m like the only female gunsmith in the game, and I screwed up my whole career,” Gutierrez-Reed says in one of the videos.
Although incomplete, the investigation leaves no doubt that the revolver Baldwin was holding contained at least one live cartridge. Somehow someone mixed a handful of live rounds with fake ones on set without anyone noticing the difference.
That length of time is unheard of in the movie industry, where firearm accidents are rare and usually don’t involve live ammunition. Brandon Lee died on the set of “The Crow” when a target pushed a projectile through a clogged barrel, not a live round. Jon-Erik Hexum died in 1984 after firing a blank bullet into his right temple, which exploded with such force that the wadding pierced his skull.
It remains to be seen if Baldwin or anyone else on the “Rust” set will face criminal charges. Although the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office released the investigation files, despite objections from Hutchins’ family, the case is not over.
But the New Mexico Office of Occupational Safety and Health blamed Rust Productions, LLC. last month to prove “simple disregard for the dangers associated with firearms by not routinely practicing your own safety protocols.” Baldwin does not own the company.
The agency the producer was fined $136,793.