Hutchins family surprised by massive ‘Rust’ data dump, calls for discretion

A still of a video shows man in a facemask on a ranch
Sheriff body cam footage of Alec Baldwin and Dave Halls on the “Rust” set after the shooting of Halyna Hutchins.
(Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office)

The family of Halyna Hutchins was taken aback by the extraordinary data dump from the “Rust” movie set shooting investigation released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office Monday.

The rising star cinematographer‘s final moments were captured on film released by the authorities, as she fought for her life after Alec Baldwin accidentally shot her on the set of the low-budget western last fall. Included in the haul were personal details such as social security numbers and home phone numbers of other crew members.

The sheriff’s deluge of documents and videos from the ‘Rust’ investigation shows a lack of protocol and insensitivity toward the cinematographer’s family.

April 26, 2022

Lawyers for the Hutchins family, who have filed a wrongful-death suit against Baldwin and the production, called for restraint in sharing the footage.


“We were surprised by the decision of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office to release such a large amount of evidence given that the investigation is still ongoing and active,” Brian Panish, attorney for the Hutchins family, said in a statement. “We hope the press will exercise discretion in how they use the graphic images and videos of the fatal events.”

Hutchins’ death sent shockwaves through the film industry, which is still grappling with how to respond to the accident. Hollywood has not seen a case like this since 2014, when Sarah Jones, a camera assistant, was killed during unauthorized filming on a train track in Georgia.

The fact that a household name such as Baldwin pulled the trigger on the prop gun, killing the mother of one, has brought intense scrutiny to the investigation.

Legal experts said the amount of information released was unprecedented: It included a 204-page case report, several videos of witness interviews, dash cam footage from officers arriving at the set and crime scene photos.

“This is just something that you don’t see,” criminal defense attorney Joshua Ritter, a former prosecutor with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, said in an interview. “We’re not talking about a few hand-picked reports or videos, but it’s almost like they’ve released their entire file and it’s just remarkable to me.”

He added that the move would put the New Mexico district attorney in an “untenable” position. “They’ve almost invited public opinion to weigh in on whether or not they think criminal charges are strong or not,” Ritter said.


The Sheriff’s Office said that the release of the information was in reaction to requests for records, which it is required to comply with under New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act. The law requires that the public and media get access to public information.

We had received many requests for the information since the beginning of the investigation back in October when the incident occurred and it took us a lot of time to compile the data,” Juan Rios, a spokesperson for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said Tuesday. “When information is requested in New Mexico that is a public record, which these files are, we’re obligated to release them.”

The release, which included all the information the office has, was not any indication of the timing of any charges that might be filed, Rios said in an interview.

Not included in the release are FBI firearm and ballistic forensics along with DNA and latent fingerprint analysis, the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator findings report, and the analysis of Baldwin’s phone data, which the Sheriff’s Office has yet to receive.

The decision to release the documents was made by Sheriff Adan Mendoza, Rios said. He confirmed that the release included telephone numbers and social security numbers that had not been redacted and that anyone who had requested the records received them.

New Mexico has a victim’s rights law that requires that victims be treated with fairness and with dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process, as well as timely disposition of the case. Rios said the data release was in compliance with New Mexico law.


Lisa Torraco, attorney for “Rust” assistant director David Halls, said the Sheriff’s Office was negligent in releasing the information.

“We are very very disappointed the sheriff released personal information,” Torraco said in a statement.

New Mexico Dist. Atty. Mary Carmack-Altwies did not respond to a request for comment.

No charges have yet been filed. There was a degree of negligence on the film set and no one was “off the hook” when it came to criminal charges, Sheriff Mendoza told NBC’s “Today” program Tuesday. Whether that negligence rose to a criminal level would be up to the district attorney, he said.

“It was also an attempt to be transparent in the investigation,” he said. “It is hard to determine the route the case will go.”

The data release comes less than a week after a New Mexico agency report that found the “Rust” production breached its own safety rules.