It’s been weeks since we learned that a search warrant had been issued in Santa Fe County, New Mexico for Alec Baldwin’s cell phone as part of the investigation into the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins, with Baldwin having fired the fatal shot. And yet, despite more than twenty days having passed, with Baldwin and his wife having been seen out on the town, the phone still hasn’t been turned over to investigators. What could possibly be causing the holdup? The New York Post published an article this week in which they spoke with some legal experts who offered possible explanations.
The lawyers theorized that the 63-year old actor may be concerned about the possibility of “incriminating” evidence on the phone— including deleted texts or photos that could hold him in criminal contempt–or may simply want to keep his private conversations out of the public eye.
“There could be incriminating evidence on the phone, or it might be for privacy reasons,” said Kevin Kearon, a former Nassau District Attorney’s Office who’s now a criminal defense lawyer.
That seems like a fairly innocuous analysis, right? The two suggestions being offered are probably the most likely and similar situations involving requests for potential evidence crop up in court cases all of the time. But Baldwin clearly didn’t see it that way. The article caught his attention and he immediately took to Instagram to unleash a tirade against the Post, accusing them of slandering him and insisting that he is “complying” with all requests that have been made during the investigation. He also attempted to explain why it’s taking so long for the phone to be produced.
“Any suggestion that I am not complying with requests or orders or demands or search warrants about my phone, that’s bulls–t, that’s a lie,” the actor said as he sat behind the wheel of a parked vehicle in the Hamptons in a lengthy Instagram video Saturday.
“This is a process where one state makes the request of another state,” he explained of the New Mexico warrant. “It’s a process that takes time, they have to specify what they want. We are one thousand percent going to comply with all that.”
Baldwin went on in a profanity-laden tirade, calling the newspaper a “right-wing rag sheet.” He also asked why the newspaper wasn’t covering the death of Sidney Poitier on the cover, instead of printing, “lies, bull***t, and nonsense.”
The problem here, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that none of Baldwin’s lines of “defense” make any sense and he’s only making himself look more guilty with these supposed explanations. It’s absolutely true that a warrant for the collection of evidence that involves parties in multiple states can be complicated and take some tie to work out in court. But that’s only when the person being asked for the evidence is forcing the investigators to jump through every legal hoop possible. Investigators asked for Baldwin’s phone early in the proceedings. There was nothing in the world barring him from simply handing over the phone and saying, ‘here ya go. Let me know if I can do anything else to help.’
But Baldwin did the exact opposite. He told them that they would need to “acquire a warrant” if they wanted to look at the phone. He then proceeded to take the phone to the other side of the country. Who knows what a sufficiently savvy geek could do to that phone in this amount of time?
And then there is Baldwin’s claim that he is “complying” with any requests, orders, or demands. There’s a significant difference between “complying” and “cooperating,” which Baldwin initially promised he would do from the beginning. Cooperation implies that you will be working together with others toward a common goal, presumably to find justice for the dead woman and provide transparency as to how the tragedy took place. “Complying” means that you will follow any lawful orders you are given and, at best, not obstruct the process.
If Alec Baldwin had simply turned over the phone immediately as I suggested above, I would imagine that everyone would have applauded him for his cooperative actions and perhaps even sympathized with him over the emotional toll that taking another person’s life, even accidentally, can cause. But by dragging his feet and putting up every legal barrier to the investigation imaginable, he’s creating a very different picture for the public. These are the actions of someone with something to hide, not the course that would be chosen by someone who was truly looking to cooperate and get to the bottom of a tragic and increasingly questionable mystery.