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Alec Baldwin Gives Phone to Authorities for ‘Rust’ Shooting Investigation; Attorneys Claim It Contains ‘No Answers’

Alec Baldwin appears in a social media screengrab from a December 2021 holiday message he recorded for supports and fans.

Alec Baldwin appears in a social media screengrab from a December 2021 holiday message he recorded for supports and fans.

Actor Alec Baldwin has turned his cellular telephone over to the authorities in connection with the deadly shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza on the set of the film “Rust.”

“The Baldwin cell phone was been turned over to Suffolk County law enforcement authorities,” Public Information Officer Juan Rios of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office told Law&Crime’s Angenette Levy on Friday — presumably with reference to Suffolk County, N.Y. “They will gather information off the phone and provide the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office with the evidence gathered.”

“The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office does not yet have physical possession of the data to be retrieved off the Baldwin phone,” Rios continued. “This is in process.”

Baldwin’s attorneys, however, rubbished the notion that anything of evidentiary significance would be located on the mobile device.

“Alec voluntarily provided his phone to the authorities this morning so they can finish their investigation,” said Baldwin civil attorney Aaron Dyer. “But this matter isn’t about his phone, and there are no answers on his phone.”

“Alec did nothing wrong,” Dyer continues. “It is clear that he was told it was a cold gun, and was following instructions when this tragic accident occurred. The real question that needs to be answered is how live rounds got on the set in the first place.”

The transfer of the phone occurred one day after the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office issued a scathing press release which bemoaned its lack of possession of the long-sought cellphone.

The press release reminded the world that the sheriff’s office applied for a search warrant back on Dec. 16, 2021, and that the warrant was approved on that same date by a Sante Fe County Magistrate Judge.

“The lead detective served the approved warrant via email to Mr. Alec Baldwin via his legal representative,” the press release went on. “Mr. Baldwin’s attorney acknowledged receipt of the warrant[,] and over the next day or two the lead detective was in contact with Mr. Baldwin’s attorney regarding compliance with the search warrant.”

The statement continues by saying jurisdictional issues quickly got in the way:

When Mr. Baldwin had not immediately provided his phone pursuant to the initial search warrant, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also reached out for assistance from the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office began working with Mr. Baldwin’s attorney to retrieve the phone. The Sheriff’s Office was advised that, due to jurisdictional concerns, the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office would be facilitating the retrieval of the phone on a consent basis.

On December 20, 2021, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office was advised that the Santa Fe District Attorney was in negotiations with Mr. Baldwin’s attorney to obtain consent to retrieve the phone and its contents. To date, the cell phone has not been turned over to authorities.

That apparently changed the day after the press release was issued.

According to the original Dec. 16 search warrant, investigators believe Baldwin’s cell phone is an Apple iPhone registered to Verizon.

The warrant says the sheriff’s office is seeking a “forensic download” of the Baldwin phone — which would include:

[D]igital images, digital movies, emails, social network accounts, social network private messages, deleted digital images, deleted digital movies, evidence of multiple or deleted social network accounts, internet browser histories, phone book, stored contacts, network connection logs, text messages (MMS and SMS) to include aftermarket text applications, phone use timelines, event logs, database cache histories, image cache histories, passwords or documents containing possible passwords, access to any “cloud” drives which may contain digital images or digital movies, or documents containing passwords.

The warrant also seeks “[a]ll contacts, including names, phone numbers, addresses, and all other information included with the contact.

Officers are specifically after “all information and data from the cellular phone in relation to the production of Rust, and any member working on the production.”

However, “no information will be collected that is unrelated to the objective of the investigation,” the warrant notes.  The entire list of information sought from the phone is a page long.

Earlier this week, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer on “Rust,” filed a civil lawsuit against the prop supply house that allegedly provided the ammunition for the ill-fated film. Those court papers accuse Seth Kenney and his business PDQ Arm and Prop, LLC, of taking reloaded ammunition from a film set staffed by Gutierrez Reed’s father Thell Reed and supplying them to “Rust.” Law&Crime’s coverage of that lawsuit is here.

Read the warrant below:

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.