Public Saw Hutchins 'Dying' Before Her Widower: Lawyer

Attorney for Matt Hutchins requests footage from first responders be taken down
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2022 12:10 PM CDT
Public Saw Hutchins 'Dying' Before Her Widower: Lawyer
Brian Panish, an attorney for the family of late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, speaks to reporters alongside a portrait of Hutchins during a news conference in Los Angeles on Feb. 15, 2022.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

(Newser) – The first time Halyna Hutchins’ widower saw footage of her dying on the set of Rust was in an online news report, his lawyer writes in an email accusing the Santa Fe Sheriff's Office of violating his rights. Among the files released Monday as part of the investigation into the fatal shooting was body camera footage of first responders trying to save the life of the cinematographer. In a Wednesday email obtained by media outlets, Matt Hutchins' attorney requests that the sheriff's office take down the "disturbing and unsettling video footage of his dying wife lying on the church floor," whose release caused "irreparable" damage, per Entertainment Tonight.

It "trampled" on the "constitutional rights of dignity, privacy, respect, and fairness" enjoyed by Hutchins and the couple’s 9-year-old son, Andros, writes attorney Brian Panish. But "taking down the video will end your office's complicity in causing further harm." Sheriff Adan Mendoza defended the release Wednesday. It was "required" in response to a public records request, "and it was also an effort to be transparent in the investigation," he told ABC, per CNN. But Panish says it was not legally required that all files be released. Indeed, "your office has the power to redact 'protected personal identifier information contained in public records,' but inexplicably decided not to."

Panish writes that authorities promised Hutchins would be able to "review the materials being publicly released in advance of their dissemination to the press," but then backtracked. "Without any discussion, your office unilaterally determined that Mr. Hutchins would be given access to the materials to review early in the morning on Monday," before their release that afternoon, which was "wholly inadequate ... given the sheer volume of material." He ultimately claims the sheriff’s office "released the materials to the public before releasing the materials to Mr. Hutchins," who fears the footage will be "used by bullies to emotionally abuse" his son. (Read more Halyna Hutchins stories.)

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