Law enforcement officials will soon search actor Alec Baldwin’s cell phone in the wake of the actor’s involvement in the fatal shooting that occurred on the set of his movie, Rust, Fox News reports.
The news comes as the Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Hutchins died after being shot by a gun that Baldwin was holding on the movie set — a gun that was not supposed to contain live ammunition.
“Affiant is requesting a warrant for the seizure and search of Alec Baldwins’ [sic] cell phone to search for any evidence relating to the death investigation of Halyna Hutchins,” the affidavit from the police department said, according to Fox. “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 continues: “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.”
Separately, Fox News reported that Baldwin refused to turn over his mobile phone until the authorities provided a valid search warrant.
The outlet reports: “Baldwin’s civil attorney, Aaron Dyer, claimed the actor ‘proactively requested’ that police obtain a search warrant in order for him to ‘protect’ himself and his family.
Fox goes on to quote a number of experts who weighed in on what the development could mean. One legal expert, Christopher Melcher, described Dyer’s statement as “spin,” saying:
It is spin by Alec’s lawyer to say that he suggested the warrant. He refused to provide his phone without a warrant. That is not cooperation or a proactive suggestion.
Other experts suggested to Fox that there are legitimate reasons that Baldwin might not want to hand his phone over, other than that the possibility that it contains incriminating evidence. One such reason might be that there are privileged, attorney-client data on the phone.
It is unclear whether Baldwin’s phone is in the hands of authorities as of this writing. However, it’s certain that they’ll soon have the device to aid in the ongoing investigation.
Once the device is turned over to the police, it will be crucial for the authorities to handle it properly so as to not jeopardize the chain of custody and other critical evidence-gathering steps.
Baldwin has maintained his innocence in the wake of the shooting. He told authorities that he was unaware that there was a live round in the revolver.
It has yet to be explained by anyone involved how the live round made it into the gun in the first place.