The Sante Fe Sheriff’s Department made a somewhat surprising move this week, when it released a large volume of material—body cam footage, interview videos, photographs, and more—from its investigation into the fatal shooting that occurred on the set of the Alec Baldwin-produced Western Rust. The department made the material available to the public on Monday, despite its own assertions that the investigation in question is ongoing, as the FBI is still set to perform analysis on the firearm that went off in Alec Baldwin’s hand on October 21, 2021, wounding director Joel Souza and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
ABC News reports that an attorney for Hutchins’ family—which is engaged in a lawsuit against the films’ producers—stated that they were “surprised” the material was released, apparently at the behest of a public records request made to the department. The news comes shortly after the film’s production company was hit with the maximum possible fine from New Mexico’s OHSB, citing “safety failures” on the set.
From what we’ve seen, much of the footage released this week seems to be centered on the ongoing question of how a live bullet ended up in the gun Baldwin was holding, including showing police interviews with both Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. In the interview, Gutierrez-Reed (who’s been a focal point for investigations into gun safety on Rust’s set) asserts that she checked the rounds provided to the production before the rehearsal in question, and in other footage is shown to be deeply distraught in the aftermath of the shooting.
The Sheriff’s Department asserts that it released the footage in the interest of “transparency.”
It’s expected to still be several months, at least, before an actual legal decision is handed down (either in civil or criminal court) about what happened on the set of the film. Baldwin has given a few interviews about the incident in the intervening months; he’s repeatedly asserted that he never pulled the trigger on the gun, and that it discharged after he released its hammer while pointing it toward the camera, at Hutchins’ direction.