The investigation into the fatal film-set shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin is ongoing, and the New Mexico prosecutor overseeing the case says authorities are awaiting the analysis of key forensic evidence before a decision can be made about whether criminal charges will be filed.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies provided the update in a social media post Wednesday, saying her office has received only portions of the investigation from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
Still outstanding is forensic analysis of the weapon, a review of data from Baldwin’s cell phone and more from the FBI and state medical examiners.
The screening process by prosecutors will begin once sheriff’s investigators receive the information and complete their supplemental reports. To expedite the process, Carmack-Altwies has retained a special prosecutor — retired Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb from eastern New Mexico, who has more than two decades of experience.
“To remain transparent to the local and national community, the (district attorney’s office) will proactively disseminate information as it becomes available,” Carmack-Altwies said.
A live round of ammunition killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza during rehearsal on Oct. 21, 2021. Filming for the Western “Rust” took place at a ranch on the outskirts of the city of Santa Fe.
In records released so far, investigators described complacency, disorganization and neglected safety measures in the making of the low-budget movie.
Dutch Merrick is an armorer and prop master for TV and movies, which means he knows firsthand how movie actors and crews are supposed to be kept safe from guns on set. He joined LX News host Ashley Holt to to talk about the accidental fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Alec Baldwin’s movie “Rust” and every step that should have prevented it from happening.
The videos released by investigators show a debriefing with Baldwin hours after the fatal shooting and rehearsal clips that show Baldwin in costume as he practiced a quick-draw maneuver with a gun.
Baldwin had told investigators that as the gun went off, he was unaware initially that Hutchins would die and was shocked to learn that he had been holding a gun loaded with live ammunition. Baldwin, who also was a producer on the film, had said the gun should have been empty for a rehearsal with no filming.
In April, New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau delivered a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols. It included testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two previous misfires on the set, complaints from crew members that went unheeded, and reports that weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.
Rust Movie Productions is disputing the findings and the sanction.