No One ‘Off The Hook For Criminal Charges’ In ‘Rust’ Shooting, Sheriff Says


Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who is overseeing the investigation into the shooting on the set of Rust in October, when a gun held by actor Alec Baldwin fired and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, said Tuesday nobody is “off the hook for criminal charges,” contradicting claims made by Baldwin that he is not responsible for Hutchins’ death and that a workplace safety report exonerated him.

Key Facts

Speaking on the Today show, Mendoza called it “too early to tell” if criminal charges can be ruled out.

Mendoza said a they are investigating how live ammunition got onto the set, with no one admitting they brought it to the production.

Mendoza said they discovered “concerning” information about live ammunition in text messages, without elaborating, but did say it might have been“used on a prior movie set… just a few months before the Rust movie set and production began.”

On Monday, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department released materials from the investigation, including crime scene photos, witness interviews and videos, as part of a public record’s request, Mendoza said, and stated that the investigation is still ongoing and open.

Mendoza did not say when the investigation will be completed and when it will be turned over to the district attorney, who will ultimately decide whether to press criminal charges.

Key Background

In Monday’s release, Mendoza said his department was still waiting on firearm and ballistics forensics from the FBI, DNA and fingerprint analysis, analysis of data from Baldwin’s phone and a medical examiner’s report to complete the investigation. Last week, the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health fined Rust’s production company a maximum fee for not following firearm safety procedures on set, which the agency said led to the fatal shooting. After the report was released, Baldwin’s lawyer said the report exonerated the actor, because it showed Baldwin believed the gun in his hand was loaded with dummy ammunition. The report also stated Baldwin’s role as a producer on the movie was confined to creative decisions. Baldwin has said he feels as though he is not responsible for the shooting, and that he did not pull the trigger of the gun when it went off. He has also previously claimed he was told by people within “the state” he probably won’t be charged criminally. Baldwin and others were sued by Hutchins’ family in February for wrongful death.

Further Reading

‘Rust’ Investigation Still Ongoing Six Months After On-Set Shooting, Authorities Say (Forbes)

Alec Baldwin Boasts About ‘Rust’ Shooting Report He Claims ‘Exonerates’ Him (Forbes)

‘Rust’ Production Company Fined For Not Following Safety Procedures That Led To Shooting (Forbes)

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