Hutchins family slams Santa Fe County sheriff, calls to retract video of cinematographer shot by Baldwin

The set of "Rust" at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, N.M.
A view of Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico one day after Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer on the set of the western “Rust” last fall.
(Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

The family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer accidentally shot by Alec Baldwin on a film set last year, criticized the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office for its unprecedented, unredacted data dump from its investigation into the incident.

Brian Panish, attorney for Hutchins’ surviving husband and young son, said the sheriff’s office breached the family’s constitutional rights by releasing the video of Hutchin’s final moments before clearing it with the family.

He called on the sheriff’s office to retract the video released Tuesday that shows the 42-year-old mother of one dying on the set outside Santa Fe, N.M.

Under New Mexico law, victims such as Hutchins and her family have the right to review such materials before they are released to the public and to request redactions, Panish said.


The sheriff’s office said Tuesday it was complying with New Mexico laws, which require it to make public records available. A representative of the sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The first time Mr. Hutchins saw the disturbing and unsettling video footage of his dying wife lying on the church floor was on Radar Online, an internet website,” Panish said in a letter sent to Sheriff Adan Mendoza on Wednesday and seen by The Times. “The potential consequences are disturbing given how information is misused on social media. We fear, for example, that this shocking footage of Andros’ mother dying may be material used by bullies to emotionally abuse him in the future.”

The trove of records and videos revealed the aftermath of the shooting last fall on the New Mexico film ranch in grisly detail. It included more than 200 pages of police reports, videos, still images and personal information such as numbers and email addresses of the crew, including Hutchins.

The rising star cinematographer’s final moments were shared with the world, as body cam footage of first responders attending to her and other material was downloaded so many times, the website platform crashed.

“Your office trampled on the constitutional rights of the Hutchins” family, Panish wrote. “The damage your office has done is irreparable.”

The sheriff had promised to allow Matthew Hutchins less than one business day to review the material before it was disseminated to the media, Panish said.

He added that the actions were not legally required, and authorities failed to redact personal identifier information.

“Taking down the video will end your office’s complicity in causing further harm,” Panish said.

Observers were stunned by the large volume of data the sheriff’s office released before authorities have even brought criminal charges.

The haul included police interviews with Alec Baldwin, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed and others from the production.

Gutierrez Reed’s attorney also objected to the unfettered download. Jason Bowles strenuously denied suggestions he said were made by Sheriff Mendoza that the armorer may have brought live rounds to the set of “Rust” or fired them on the set of her previous film “The Old Way.”

In a letter to Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sent Thursday, Bowles said the comments had the potential to taint public opinion of his client . He also criticized the release of the young gun wrangler’s personal information, including her cell phone number, which led to threats of physical violence, he said.

“In essence, the Sheriff’s unprecedented, ill-conceived, and unnecessary complete information dump resembles more a flinging open the gates of the Roman Colosseum for the free admission of the entire world public to view and engage in a public spectacle of baseless speculation, innuendo, and inaccurate accusations, rather than a deliberative investigatory process,” Bowles said. He asked for the Sheriff to correct his remarks.