There was a very interesting and unusual development today in the case of the fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s movie, Rust.
The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office has now gotten a search warrant to seize and search actor and producer Alec Baldwin’s cell phone looking for evidence in relation to the case.
The affidavit for the search warrant from Det. Alexandria Hancock (the “Affiant”) states:
“Affiant believes there may be evidence on the phone, due to individuals using cellular phones during and/or after the commission of crime(s),” the affidavit goes on to say. “Such information, if it exists, may be material and relevant to this investigation. Affiant was also made aware there were several emails and text messages sent and received regarding the movie production Rust in the course of interviews” [….]
“Affiant has not included every fact related to this investigation, but has included only those facts Affiant believes are necessary to establish probable cause, for the issuance of a search warrant for the above mentioned device,” Det Hancock noted in her successful search warrant bid.
The police wanted his phone before this but Baldwin’s lawyers refused to turn it over without a warrant. Now Baldwin is going to have to turn it over. That raises the question of why didn’t he want to turn the phone over before and what didn’t he want the police to see.
I think it’s fair to say this is bad news for Baldwin. I can’t tell you exactly what they’re looking for because I’m not in their heads, but I can take a few educated guesses here. They’ll be looking for anything that indicates that he knew about the problems on the set. They may know there are emails and texts that are relevant from other people they have questioned. All that could be relevant to potential prosecution, for example, for negligent homicide.
One of the big problems for Baldwin? He’s given interviews including a very detailed one to George Stephanopoulos and now has locked himself into factual scenarios such as saying that he “didn’t pull the trigger” and that he had “no idea” how live bullets may have gotten on the set. While Baldwin has claimed he was told that it was highly unlikely that he would be prosecuted, the police have never ruled it out. They also have been careful to never call the incident an “accident.” After the interview with Stephanopoulos, Baldwin deleted his publicly accessible Twitter account.
Another element floating out there? Jason Bowles, the attorney for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, is saying that she believes there was sabotage that affected the situation after she gave the gun to assistant director Dave Halls.
Bowles said that Gutierrez-Reed “had spun the cylinder, she had given it to Halls, she had shown him each of the six rounds. Halls was going to take custody of that weapon.” He said that sabotage “is the most likely possibility. Probability.” He has previously said that he believes that someone may have “intended to sabotage this set with a live round intentionally placed in a box of dummies.”
The armorer’s father, Thell Reed, a famous armorer, said that had his daughter been allowed in the church, she would have re-checked the weapon and if there were a live round, she would have caught it. That may tailor with another report that said that the gun was left on a gray cart due to COVID restrictions. She wasn’t allowed into the church because of the restrictions — they were limiting who was allowed in. That may have contributed to the problems.
On Friday, a judge approved a request by OSHA to subpoena the assistant director, Dave Halls, because they said he had twice declined to speak with them voluntarily about the shooting and conditions on the set. That raises the question of why he didn’t want to talk to them before and had to be subpoenaed to do so.