‘Rust’ shooting investigation underway despite Alec Baldwin saying he has been cleared

The sheriff’s department, which is investigating last year’s fatal shooting on the set of the movie “Rust”, said on Monday that it is still gathering key evidence and throwing cold water at actor Alec Baldwin’s recent claim that he has been cleared of any misdemeanor.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department investigation “remains open and ongoing,” the department said as it released files related to the investigation, including footage of the aftermath of the shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.

According to Sheriff Adan Mendoza, “various components of the investigation remain outstanding,” including FBI firearms and ballistic forensics, DNA and fingerprint analysis, results from the Office of the New Mexico Medical Examiner, and analysis of Baldwin’s telephone data.

The investigation will not be handed over to the district attorney’s office for review until evidence is gathered, Mendoza said.

Baldwin, who starred in and produced the film, released a statement from his lawyer last week suggesting that a report from the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau had cleared him of abuse on the set.

“We appreciate that the report acquits Mr. Baldwin by making it clear that he believed the gun only held dummy shots,” his lawyer wrote. “In addition, the report acknowledges this [his] the authority of the production was limited to approving script changes and creative casting. “

Baldwin also maintains that he did not pull the trigger.

During and after production, the film crew complained that those in charge of the project did not properly explain or enforce firearms safety on the set. Investigators found that Baldwin’s fatal shot was the fourth time a stopper gun inadvertently fired during filming.

The unionized crew eventually walked out of the set citing a lack of firearms safety and doctors as well as poor COVID-19 protocols. Production also failed to provide hotel rooms near the remote shooting location, forcing many crew members to commute for an hour on top of their 13-hour shifts, leaving them without sufficient time to sleep.

The documents released Monday include text messages of the crew’s complaints, witness interviews and police officers’ reverse and dash camera footage, but no one determines how sharp ammunition came on the set.

The recently released videos show Baldwin’s first conversations with police and investigators, both on set and at the police station. The actor is cooperative and asks the officers to “tell [him] what to do.”

Other footage shows Hutchins and Souza on the ground after the shooting, as well as Souza recounting the ordeal from her hospital room.

“The gunman handed the actor a gun,” he said, referring to incarcerated armor master Hannah Gutierrez Reed and Baldwin. “I do not know if she said it was cold or clean, but she handed him a gun and there was a bang – a louder bang than I have heard coming from a plot before.”

Baldwin’s legal team did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the sheriff’s comments and files.

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