Rust assistant director ‘missed final gun safety check’ – as court shown footage of Alec Baldwin firing weapon | Ents & Arts News

Mar 1, 2024 | Entertainment, News

The assistant director of Rust has told a court he missed a final safety check on the gun that killed the film’s cinematographer – as footage of Alec Baldwin firing blanks before the fatal shooting was shown.

Hannah Gutierrez, the armourer responsible for the weapons on the set, is currently on trial in New Mexico and has pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

Baldwin, the star and co-producer of the western film, denies involuntary manslaughter and faces a separate trial in July. He has maintained that he never pulled the gun’s trigger.

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin faces a separate trial later this year

Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died in October 2021 after a gun held by the Hollywood star, 65, went off during a rehearsal on the set on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

On Thursday, jurors were shown footage of Baldwin waving a gun before the fatal shooting.

They also heard from assistant director David Halls, who last year entered a plea bargain for negligent use of a deadly weapon, receiving a six-month suspended sentence.

He was emotional at times as he told Gutierrez’s trial: “I was negligent checking the gun properly.”

Halls told the court how Gutierrez showed him the rounds in the reproduction Colt 45 revolver and that he recalled “seeing three to four what I believed to be dummy rounds”, which looked “very distinctive” and different from live rounds.

However, he said he did not remember Gutierrez “fully rotating” the gun cylinder to show him all six rounds.

Asked if he let the safety check pass, he said: “I did.”

Defendant Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, former armorer on the set of the movie "Rust", walks back to her seat after speaking with District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer before her trial at District Court, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. Gutierrez-Reed is charged with involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the filming of the Western. (Luis Sánchez Saturno/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool)
Hannah Gutierrez denies all the charges against her. Pic: Luis Sanchez Saturno/Santa Fe New Mexican/AP

Gutierrez then gave Baldwin the gun, he told the court. Gutierrez has not testified but told investigators she left the loaded gun in the hands of Halls.

His testimony also included an account of standing about a metre from Ms Hutchins when the single gunshot rang out. As she was on the ground, he asked if she was all right.

“She said, ‘I can’t feel my legs’,” he said.

Halls said he struggled to understand how a live round could have been fired. “The idea that it was a live round of ammunition that went off… it wasn’t computing,” he said.

A photo of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is displayed during the trial against Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, in First District Court, in Santa Fe, N.M., Thursday, February 22, 2024. Gutierrez-Reed, who was working as the armorer on the movie "Rust" when a revolver that actor Alec Baldwin was holding fired killing Hutchins and wounded the film’s director Joel Souza, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evid
Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins have been shown during the hearing. Pic: Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal/ AP

Halls and props supplier Sarah Zachry both told the court they did not recall Gutierrez rattle-testing rounds on set to check they were dummies.

Halls also defended Baldwin, saying the actor did not endanger safety by rushing production, as prosecutors allege.

Jurors were also shown footage of Baldwin waving a gun and firing blanks in front of crew members on the film set.

The actor can be heard shouting: “One more! One more! One more! Right away! Let’s reload!”

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Firearms expert Bryan Carpenter was taken through the footage and told the court Baldwin appeared to be firing “full flash” blanks.

Mr Carpenter said he believed Baldwin was “entirely too close” to crew members.

Lawyers for Gutierrez say problems on the set were beyond her control. Prosecutors say she is to blame for bringing live ammunition on set.

The trial continues.

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