(Updated with statement from Baldwin’s lawyers) Almost two months after the fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin on the New Mexico set of low budget Western, Santa Fe police want to look at the Emmy winner’s iPhone for more information.
“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,” said Sheriff’s Office Det. Alexandria Hancock in a search warrant approved by a judge today (read it here).
“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 goes on to say. “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”
Even though Baldwin has been communicating with Det. Hancock during the ongoing police probe of the October 21 tragedy, the Rust star/producer’s lawyers refused to hand over the requested phone without an explicit warrant — which the cops now have.
And they may have more on the man who was holding the 1880s gun that killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.
“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.
This is the fifth search warrant so far the Sheriff’s Office has obtained in its investigation of the Rust fatality. Baldwin’s attorneys say that they wanted a formal warrant for their client’s phone to protect his privacy.
“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,” Aaron Dyer said Thursday after the warrant for Baldwin’s phone was approved.
“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 Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP 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.”
Interviewed on a number of occasions by the Sheriff[s Office, Baldwin in a sit-down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos earlier this month declared that he “did not pull the trigger” of the gun that killed Rust DP Hutchins. The Oscar nominated actor said, “had no idea” how a live bullet made its way onto the set. Following that interview, Baldwin deleted his Twitter account.
Having placed no restrictions or bond on Baldwin since the shooting, police have repeatedly asked the actor to refrain from speaking publicly about the case as their investigation goes forward. A request Baldwin has actively ignored in recent weeks.
Last Friday, a New Mexico judge ordered that the First Assistant Director Dave Halls, who told Baldwin that the pistol being handled on set was a “cold gun”, was subpoenaed by District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid after he ducked various attempts to be interviewed by an Occupational Safety and Health probe into Rust.
In addition to Halls, another person being questioned on the tragic incident is the pic’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Her attorney Jason Bowles, as well as her veteran film industry armorer father, Thell Reed, in an ABC News interview earlier this month, are pushing a theory that sabotage is to blame for the loaded gun on the Rust set. Thell Reed said that his daughter stayed outside the church where the rehearsal took place that resulted in Hutchins’ death; that it was the first time since cameras rolled that Gutierrez-Reed didn’t directly hand the gun to Baldwin.
Reed told ABC that that had 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.”
Reed also defended his daughter’s experience, saying that “she has been raised around gun safety since she was a little girl.”
Bowles said that Gutierrez-Reed “had spun the cylinder, she had given it to Halls, she had shown him each of the six rounds. Halls was going to take custody of that weapon.” He said that sabotage “is the most likely possibility. Probability.” He has previously said that he believes that someone may have “intended to sabotage this set with a live round intentionally placed in a box of dummies.”
Looking to counter any notion that the Rust set was a dangerous one are 25 crew members who wrote a public letter, that was re-posted on Baldwin’s Instagram on Dec. 9 who “believe the public narrative surrounding our workplace tragedy to be inadequate and 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 (DP) Halyna Hutchins, and the need to find modern alternatives to outdated industry firearm and safety practices,” the note further read.
“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.”
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