In the letter to the mayor’s office, Brian Banish, the Hutchins family’s attorney, said the release of evidence caused “irreparable” damage to her husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their son.
“Your office trampled on the constitutional rights of the Hutchins family,” reads the letter, dated April 27. “Without any discussion, your office has unilaterally determined that Mr. Hutchins will be granted access to the materials for review early in the morning on Monday, 25 April before being made public later in the afternoon, giving him less than one working day to review the materials.”
Banish wrote that because of the “enormous volume of material”, this was “totally insufficient time”, and the family was not given the opportunity to “request the exercise of discretion, and the revision of sensitive material”.
Moreover, as stated in the letter, the mayor’s office has not redacted Hutchins’ private and personal information. Banish writes that his client fears bullies will use a video showing his wife’s last moments to emotionally abuse their son.
The letter demands that the sheriff’s office respect the “constitutional rights to dignity, privacy, respect, and fairness of the Hutchins family in the future,” and the office is downloading footage of Hutchins “as he dies on church grounds.”
“While the harm caused by posting the video is irreparable, deleting the video will end your office’s complicity in causing further harm,” the letter read.
CNN has contacted the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office to confirm receipt of the letter and additional comment.
During an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza defended the release of the material. “We are responding to a public records request, where we are asked to disclose information, and it was also an effort to be transparent in the investigation,” Mendoza said.
He told ABC that the investigation was “nearly completed,” adding that his office was awaiting FBI analysis of firearms ammunition, DNA fingerprints, a report from the medical examiner, and some analysis of cell phone data. His office hopes this will be over in “weeks, not months,” he told GMA.
Sharif says the evidence released includes “relevant texts.”
Evidence files released by the mayor’s office also contained “Rust” armored text messages that Hannah Gutierrez Reed shared with an ammunition supplier for a previous 2021 movie — not “Rust” — in which she stated that she plans to fire live ammunition during filming.
Mendoza called the text messages “about” during an interview with NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday and said investigators are looking into who brought live ammunition to the Rust group.
“At the moment, no one has come forward and admitted to bringing the live rounds to the movie set. There was information from the text messages that was worrisome based on the fact that live ammunition had been talked about and may have been used on an earlier movie set and that was just a few months ago. From starting production of the ‘Rust’ movie set, this is concerning.”
A law enforcement official told CNN they considered the text exchange important as they tried to determine if the gunsmith had practiced live-fire training at the same time she was responsible for safety in groups.
Gutierrez Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, told CNN that his client wanted to shoot to understand how the historic weapon worked and confirmed that she did not fire live bullets on set.
CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Josh Campbell and Stella Chan contributed to this report.