The lawyer representing the family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who was killed when a gun in actor Alec Baldwin’s hand fired on the set of the movie Rust, criticized the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department for releasing a trove of materials from the investigation of the shooting earlier this week, according to the Los Angeles Times, including footage of some of Hutchins’ final moments after she was shot.
Brian Panish, the attorney representing Hutchins’ widower Matthew Hutchins and their son Andros, called on the department to retract the video in a letter sent Wednesday to Sheriff Adan Mendoza, according to the Times, saying the office violated the family’s constitutional rights by releasing the footage without clearing it with them beforehand.
Panish said that the first time Matthew Hutchins saw “the disturbing and unsettling video footage of his dying wife lying on the church floor” was on the gossip site Radar Online.
Panish said that under New Mexico law, victims and their families have the right to review materials before they are publicly released, and said Mendoza gave Matthew Hutchins less than one day to review the massive amount of materials, which included videos, witness interviews and crime scene photos.
Panish wrote that there could be consequences to this video being online, like bullies using the footage of Andros’ dying mother to taunt him.
Forbes has reached out to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department for comment.
“Your office trampled on the constitutional rights of the Hutchins [family]. The damage your office has done is irreparable,” Panish wrote. “Taking down the video will end your office’s complicity in causing further harm.”
Mendoza said Tuesday the department released the trove of documents to comply with a public records request. The investigation is still open and ongoing, and several components of it still need to be completed, including FBI ballistics and firearm forensic analysis. No one has been charged, the case has not been turned over to the district attorney, and it is still too early to rule out criminal charges, Mendoza said. In February, Matthew Hutchins sued Baldwin and others for wrongful death. Baldwin has denied responsibility for the shooting, and has said he did not pull the gun’s trigger and was told it was safe to use.
In February, Matthew Hutchins said it was “absurd” for Baldwin to claim he wasn’t responsible for the shooting, saying it bothered him to see the actor “not accept any responsibility having just described killing her.”
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‘Rust’ Investigation Still Ongoing Six Months After On-Set Shooting, Authorities Say (Forbes)
Alec Baldwin Sued By Victim’s Family For Wrongful Death Over ‘Rust’ Shooting (Forbes)
‘Rust’ Victim’s Widow: ‘Absurd’ Of Alec Baldwin To Claim He’s Not Responsible For Death (Forbes)