Issued on: 04/26/2022 – 18:56
Los Angeles (AFP) – The criminal investigation into the fatal shooting of a US film starring Alec Baldwin is “close to completion,” the official leading the investigation said on Tuesday.
Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza’s comments come as his department released a wealth of materials related to the incident that killed Halyna Hutchins on the set of low-budget western Rust, including footage of Baldwin appearing to be connected to the trained weapon that killed her.
“We estimated a time frame … in weeks, not months,” Mendoza told ABC.
“There are a few things we’re waiting for in the final FBI report regarding analysis of the firearm, ammunition, latent fingerprints and DNA.
“We’re also waiting for the medical investigator’s office to complete their report and analyze a bit more cellphone data.”
Cinematographer Hutchins, 42, died after being struck by a live bullet that came from the gun Baldwin was holding while rehearsing on the set in New Mexico in October.
Baldwin, who was both a producer and the star of the film, was told the gun was safe and has previously said he did not pull the trigger.
Footage released by the Sheriff’s Department shows first responders rushing to treat Hutchins, as well as a dazed Baldwin’s first encounters with law enforcement.
Other clips, apparently from the now-discontinued film, show the Hollywood star in period dress, sitting in the pew of the wooden church and drawing the Colt pistol, which he points in the direction of the camera.
The moment of filming, in which director Joel Souza was also injured, cannot be seen.
Strict measures should be taken on film sets to prevent tragedy, including the exclusive use of dummy or blank cartridges in any firearm production.
But a health and safety investigation into New Mexico officials, who fined more than $136,000, said last week that manufacturers were “simply indifferent” to those protocols.
Mendoza said Tuesday the origin of the live round that killed Hutchins was “one of the key questions” in the criminal investigation.
“Nobody came forward and admitted bringing ammo to the set,” he said.
The wealth of materials includes messages from Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the young gunsmith in charge of the guns on set, relating to the use of live cartridges in another film.
“This is concerning because it was only a few months before production on ‘Rust’ kicked off,” Mendoza said. “And these are some of the same employees and people who played a role in the ‘Rust’ production.”
Mendoza said no decision has been made as to whether Baldwin will be prosecuted.
“He was the one who handled the gun that fired the round that resulted in the death and injury,” he said.
“We will be working with the DA’s (district attorney’s) office to determine if there has been criminal neglect or criminal charges.”
Although no criminal charges have been filed to date, there have been a number of civil lawsuits.
The Hutchins family has sued Baldwin and other “Rust” producers, seeking “substantial” damages for their wrongful deaths.
Other lawsuits were instituted against the producers by the film’s chief lighting technician and script director.
Gutierrez-Reed has sued the film’s ammo supplier, accusing them of leaving real bullets between the dummy cartridges.
Baldwin told a television interviewer in December he was instructed by Hutchins to point the gun her way and didn’t pull the trigger.
“I feel like someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who that is. “But I know I’m not.”
© 2022 AFP