Santa Fe police are seeking to garner more information into Alec Baldwin’s involvement in the fatal shooting of ‘Rust’ cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by looking at the Emmy Award-winning actor’s iPhone. The investigators’ intended search of his phone comes almost two months after the accident occurred on the New Mexico set of the independent Western.
A judge approved a search warrant yesterday to seize Baldwin’s iPhone. Sheriff’s Office Det. Alexandria Hancock commented on the warrant, saying: “Affiant is requesting a warrant for the seizure and search of Alec Baldwins’ cell phone to search for any evidence relating to the death investigation of Halyna Hutchins.
“Affiant believes there may be evidence on the phone, due to individuals using cellular phones during and/or after the commission of crime(s),” the affidavit also states. “Such information, if it exists, may be material and relevant to this investigation. Affiant was also made aware there were several emails and text messages sent and received regarding the movie production ‘Rust’ in the course of interviews”
The Academy Award-nominated performer has been communicating with Det. Hancock during the ongoing police investigation of the accident, which occurred on October 21. During the shooting, the movie’s writer-director, Joel Souza, was also shot. He was transported to Christus St. Vincent’s Regional Medical Center by ambulance, where he was treated for his injuries and released later the same day.
Despite Baldwin’s cooperation with Det. Hancock and the rest of the Santa Fe police department, his lawyers refused to give investigators the requested phone until they secured the explicit warrant from the judge. The Tony Award-nominated actor’s attorneys said that they wanted a formal warrant for their client’s phone to protect his privacy. This is the fifth search warrant the Sheriff’s Office has obtained in its investigation of the fatality.
Besides securing the warrant to seize and search the iPhone from the BAFTA Award-nominated actor, who also served as a producer on ‘Rust,’ police believe they may have garnered additional information about the 1880s gun he used during the accident that isn’t linked to the device. “Affiant has not included every fact related to this investigation, but has included only those facts Affiant believes are necessary to establish probable cause, for the issuance of a search warrant for the above mentioned device,” Det Hancock noted in her successful search warrant bid.
In response to the search warrant being granted, one of Baldwin’s lawyers, Aaron Dyer from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP commented yesterday: “We are confident that the evidence will show that Mr. Baldwin is not responsible civilly or criminally for what occurred on October 21, and he continues to cooperate with authorities.
“We proactively requested that the authorities obtain a warrant so that we could take steps to protect Mr. Baldwin’s family and personal information that is clearly unrelated to the investigation,” the lawyer added. “A phone contains a person’s entire life, and personal information needs to be protected. While they evaluate the phone information, we hope that the authorities continue to focus on how the live rounds got on the set in the first place.”
The search warrant was granted after the Golden Globe-winning performer was interviewed several times by the Sheriff[s Office. He also gave an interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos earlier this month, during which he declared that he “did not pull the trigger” of the gun that killed Hutchins. Baldwin added that he had “no had no idea” how a live bullet made its way onto the set.
While the police haven’t put a bond on the SAG Award-winning actor since the shooting, they have repeatedly asked him to refrain from speaking publicly about the case as they continue their investigation. However, he hasn’t followed their request; he even told Stephanopoulos that he’s “highly unlikely” to face criminal charges in the case. However, the Santa Fe District Attorney hasn’t yet ruled out the option.
In addition to Baldwin, a New Mexico judge ordered that ‘Rust’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, who told the performer that the pistol used in the incident was safe to use, be subpoenaed by District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid. The request came after he avoided several attempts to be interviewed by an Occupational Safety and Health probe into the drama’s production.
Besides Halls, ‘Rust’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is also being questioned on the accident. Her attorney, Jason Bowles, as well as her veteran film industry armorer father, Thell Reed, are insisting that the gun was loaded with live ammunition, as a result of sabotage.
Thell Reed said during an interview with ABC that his daughter stayed outside the church while the accident took place, and it was the first time since the production began that she didn’t directly hand the gun to Baldwin. He added that that if his daughter been inside the church, “She would have re-checked that gun, and if there was a live round in there, she would have caught it.”
Twenty-five other crew members are opposing the armorer’s claim that ‘Rust’s set wasn’t safe, however. They wrote a public letter to share their belief that “the public narrative surrounding our workplace tragedy [is] inadequate and [we] wish to express a more accurate account of our experience.
“The descriptions of ‘Rust’ as a chaotic, dangerous and exploitative workplace are false and distract from what matters the most: the memory of Halyna Hutchins, and the need to find modern alternatives to outdated industry firearm and safety practices,” the note stated.
“Unfortunately, in the film industry, it is common to work on unprofessional or hectic productions to gain experience and credits,” the note continued, “Many of us have worked on those types of productions. ‘Rust’ was not one of them. ‘Rust’ was professional.”