Detectives still seek Alec Baldwin's cellphone in Rust shooting investigation
Santa Fe, New Mexico – New Mexico law enforcement officers have solicited help from New York authorities to retrieve Alec Baldwin’s cellphone in the Rust shooting investigation – more than three weeks after detectives asked to search the phone.
Santa Fe County Magistrate Judge David Segura on December 16 authorized a search warrant allowing local law enforcement to search Baldwin’s iPhone for evidence that may prove valuable to their investigation into the October 21 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the low-budget western film Rust.
But so far that hasn’t happened, officials said this week.
"The Sheriff’s Office does not have physical possession of the phone," Santa Fe County Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said Friday afternoon. "The phone is in New York with Mr. Baldwin."
Baldwin has a home in the Hamptons, in Suffolk County, New York.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies – Santa Fe County’s top law enforcement officer who is overseeing the case – said in a statement Thursday that her office and Sheriff’s investigators "are actively working with the Suffolk County, New York Sheriff’s Department and Mr. Baldwin’s lawyers, within jurisdictional constraints, to obtain any materials from Mr. Baldwin’s phone that pertain to the Rust investigation."
The search warrant issued by Segura was enforceable only in New Mexico, according to local attorneys.
Baldwin has not voluntarily turned over cellphone
Law enforcement officials have been scrutinizing the actions of Baldwin – an actor and producer who fired the prop gun during a rehearsal – as well as assistant director David Halls, who was in charge of safety on the set, and the production’s 24-year-old armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was responsible for the guns, ammunition, and gun safety.
Baldwin’s representatives were not immediately available Friday for comment.
It is unclear why the veteran actor and star of Rust has not voluntarily turned over his phone.
Earlier in the investigation, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s investigators retrieved cellphones belonging to Gutierrez Reed and Halls. Both individuals voluntarily turned over their phones to sheriff’s investigators without a search warrant, according to their respective attorneys.
Baldwin told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that he pointed the vintage Colt .45 replica at Hutchins because they were rehearsing a scene that Hutchins and director Joel Souza planned to film later that afternoon. Baldwin has said he didn’t pull the trigger and did not expect to be criminally charged.
A bullet from the prop gun fatally struck Hutchins and lodged in Souza’s shoulder. Souza was treated and released from a Santa Fe hospital.
Charges may be announced in coming months
Carmack-Altwies is expected to decide whether to bring charges against Baldwin or crew members in the next few months.
In the eight-page December 16 affidavit in support of the search warrant, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office Detective Alexandria Hancock said she was interested in reviewing Baldwin’s text messages, emails, contacts, browser history, private messages on social media, as well as his recent call list.
Investigators also requested access to digital images, deleted digital images, passwords, and any global positioning system (GPS) data from the phone.
In the affidavit for the search warrant, Hancock wrote that she had "requested Alec’s phone from him, as well as his attorney, and was instructed to acquire a warrant."
The detective wrote that there were "several emails and text messages sent and received" regarding the production that she wanted to inspect. Hancock noted that any information obtained that was unrelated to the Rust shooting investigation would be "sealed and later destroyed."
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire & IMAGO / MediaPunch