Family of victim in ‘Rust’ shooting demands Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office remove graphic video of her dying after being fatally injured, attorney letter says

Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, was killed and director Joel Souza was injured when a gun being handled by actor Alec Baldwin went off while they were rehearsing a scene at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico in October.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office released several files Monday from its ongoing investigation into the shooting, including photos, recordings and reports, officials said. Video of Hutchins dying is included in the data released.

In the letter to the sheriff’s office, Brian Panish, an attorney for the Hutchins family, said the release of the evidence has caused “irreparable” damage to her husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their son.

“Your office trampled on the constitutional rights of the Hutchins,” the letter, dated April 27, reads. “Without any discussion, your office unilaterally determined that Mr. Hutchins would be given access to the materials to review early in the morning on Monday, April 25 before being released to the public later in the afternoon giving him less than a business day to review the materials.”

Due to the “sheer volume of material,” that was “a wholly inadequate amount of time,” and the family wasn’t given the opportunity “to request that discretion be exercised, and sensitive material be redacted,” Panish wrote.

On top of that, the letter said, the sheriff’s office did not redact Hutchins’ private and personal information. Panish wrote his client fears video of his wife’s final moments could be used by bullies to emotionally abuse their son.

The letter demands the sheriff’s office respect the Hutchins family’s “constitutional rights of dignity, privacy, respect, and fairness going forward,” and the office take down footage of Hutchins “dying on the church floor.”

Halyna Hutchins attends the SAGindie Sundance Filmmakers Reception at Cafe Terigo on January 28, 2019 in Park City, Utah.

“While the damage of publishing the video is irreparable, taking down the video will end your office’s complicity in causing further harm,” the letter reads.

CNN has reached out to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office to confirm receipt of the letter and additional comment.

During an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza defended releasing the material. “We’re in response to a public records request, where we’re required to release the information, and it was also an effort to be transparent in the investigation,” Mendoza said.

The investigation is “nearing completion” he told ABC, adding his office is waiting on FBI analysis of firearm munitions, DNA prints, a report from the medical examiner, and some cell phone data analysis. His office is hoping this will wrap up in “weeks, and not months,” he told GMA.

CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Josh Campbell and Stella Chan contributed to this report.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: The Bloggers Briefing