Law enforcement officials released a trove of video evidence Monday in the ongoing investigation of a fatal October shooting of a cinematographer by actor and producer Alec Baldwin on the set of a Western movie.
Data files released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office include lapel camera recordings taken by a commanding officer as he arrives at a film-set ranch where medics are attending to the wounded, with an evacuation helicopter whirring overhead. A search for the gun leads to the movie production’s armourer, who breaks down in tears.
Other videos show investigators as they debriefing Baldwin within hours of the fatal shooting, talking with him inside a compact office – and rehearsal clips that show Baldwin in costume as he practices a quick-draw manoeuvre with a gun.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said in a statement that the investigation by his agency remains open and ongoing as it awaits the results of ballistics and forensic analysis from the FBI as well as studies of fingerprint and DNA.
“The sheriff’s office is releasing all files associated with our ongoing investigation,” he said in the statement. Those files also include photos of ammunition from the set and examination reports.
At a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when it went off, killing Hutchins and wounding the director, Joel Souza. They had been inside a small church during setup for filming a scene.
In a video taken by police later that day, Baldwin makes a few frantic calls as he awaits a meeting with law enforcement officials.
“You have no idea how unbelievable this is and how strange this is,” he says over the phone.
Under questioning by two investigators, Baldwin pieces together what happened as the gun went off, still apparently unaware that Hutchins would die and shocked to learn that he had been holding a gun loaded with live ammunition. Baldwin said the gun should have been empty for a rehearsal with no filming.
“I take the gun out slowly. I turn, I cock the pistol,” Baldwin says. “Bang, it goes off. She [Hutchins] hits the ground. She goes down. He [Souza] goes down screaming.”
Souza recounted his experience from a hospital emergency room, where he was treated for a bullet wound and questioned by investigators.
Souza described “a very loud bang, and then it felt like someone kicked me in the shoulder.” He knew Hutchins was wounded too and asked if she was OK.
In the Oct. 21 video, Baldwin repeatedly says there were no prior problems of any kind with firearms on the set of “Rust.”
Those statements conflict with more recent findings by state occupational safety regulators, who last week issued the maximum possible fine of nearly $137,000 against the Rust film production company.
New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau said Rust Movie Productions must pay $136,793, and distributed a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set prior to the fatal shooting.
The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unheeded and said weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training. Rust Movie Productions has indicated it will dispute the findings and sanction.
Baldwin said in a December interview with ABC News that he was on set pointing the gun at Hutchins at her instruction when it went off without his pulling the trigger.
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