The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins rebuked the Santa Fe County sheriff for releasing a trove of video footage taken shortly after she was shot with a prop gun held by actor Alec Baldwin on the New Mexico set of the film “Rust” last year, according to multiple media reports.
The sheriff on Monday released hundreds of pages of case reports, videos of witness interviews, and set and crime scene photos and videos, including body-cam footage from first responders who attempted to treat Hutchins at the scene. Hutchins was shot in October when a prop gun held by Baldwin unexpectedly fired, hitting her and the film’s director, Joel Souza, who recovered from his wounds.
Brian Panish, an attorney for Hutchins’ husband and son, sent a letter to the sheriff urging the department to remove the video footage from its website, which shows her dying of a gunshot wound. Panish said New Mexico law entitles surviving family members to review such material before it is published and said the sheriff’s office had promised to allow husband Matthew Hutchins time to review it before it was shared with the media.
“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 wrote to Sheriff Adan Mendoza on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported. “The potential consequences are disturbing given how information is misused on social media.”
Panish went on to say the footage could be used as emotional abuse against Hutchins’ son. The attorney did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The sheriff’s office said it released the trove of documents as part of the state’s public records requirement, which mandates that the public and media get access to such information. But the Times noted that many legal experts say the size and scope of the release were unprecedented.
Baldwin has claimed in recent days that he has been cleared of any wrongdoing in Hutchins’ death, although the sheriff’s office has stressed that its investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed.
Panish said that, although the damage from the video footage was already done, “taking down the video will end … complicity in causing further harm.”
“Your office trampled on the constitutional rights of the Hutchins” family, Panish wrote in his letter this week. “The damage your office has done is irreparable.”
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