Alec Baldwin and armorer charged with involuntary manslaughter in 'Rust' shooting - Albuquerque Journal

Alec Baldwin and armorer charged with involuntary manslaughter in ‘Rust’ shooting

Alec Baldwin at a 2021 event in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed told authorities Alec Baldwin had failed to attend required firearms training during the filming of “Rust,” so she had requested an hourlong firearms training with the movie star, according to court records filed Tuesday.
Gutierrez-Reed “felt this training was very important for Baldwin” but told deputies the requested training was cut short — to about a half-hour — due to the actor being distracted on his phone and speaking with family.

The instance is one of several prosecutors point to in alleging that Baldwin, as producer and actor on the movie “Rust,” allowed “a climate of recklessness” on set before he fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, with a Colt .45 prop gun at a movie set outside Santa Fe.

For her part, prosecutors allege Gutierrez-Reed — the film’s armorer — was responsible for Hutchins’ death as she did not follow numerous safety protocols, including by leaving ammunition unattended, allowing live rounds onto the set and not insisting on proper training for Baldwin.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were each charged Tuesday in 1st Judicial District Court with involuntary manslaughter in the Oct. 21, 2021, death of Hutchins during a rehearsal on the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set. The shooting also left director Joel Souza injured with a bullet in his shoulder.

Jason Bowles, an attorney for Gutierrez-Reed, said the probable cause statement filed against his client shows that the prosecution has “completely misunderstood the facts and has reached the wrong conclusions.”

“Hannah pleaded to provide more firearms training,” Bowles said. “She was denied and brushed aside. Hannah asked to be able to perform her armorer duties more for safety reasons. She was told by production to focus on props.”

He said she also asked to use a plastic gun for the ill-fated rehearsal but Assistant Director Dave Halls insisted on a “real gun,” and that she asked to be called back into the church set if Baldwin was going to use the gun, which Halls didn’t do.

“We will fight these charges and expect that a jury will find Hannah not guilty,” Bowles said.

Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney, previously called the charges “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

Nikas said Baldwin “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”

The filings came less than two weeks after 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced the pair would be charged in the high-profile incident that made international headlines and led to several lawsuits as well as a hefty fine for lack of safety from the New Mexico Environment Department.

Halls has pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon and faces a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
Gutierrez-Reed told deputies she loaded the gun from a box, later found to contain both dummy rounds and live ammunition, and handed it to Halls who declared the firearm “cold” before he handed it to Baldwin.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the shooting, never determined how live rounds got onto the movie set — arguably one of the most important pieces of the case.

Testing of live rounds found scattered around the set showed the smokeless powder inside them did not match live rounds seized from the film’s weapons supplier Seth Kenney, who had initially told deputies he may have accidentally provided live rounds to Gutierrez-Reed.

In response to questions on the matter, Santa Fe Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios said “as of this writing the sheriff’s office has no comment as the case is currently in the purview of the Santa Fe District Attorney.”

The 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office did not respond to questions.

Reckless environment

Prosecutors allege Baldwin was responsible for Hutchins’ death by not addressing prior accidental gun discharges, hiring inexperienced crew like Gutierrez-Reed, failing to hold sufficient safety meetings and personally mishandling the firearm that killed Hutchins.

Baldwin was given “only minimal training” even after Gutierrez-Reed requested more training for him, according to a statement of probable cause filed in 1st Judicial District Court. According to court records, Baldwin was “distracted and talking on his cellphone to his family during the training.”

Furthermore, the rehearsal did not require the gun to be fired, according to court records. Despite Baldwin’s assertion that he did not pull the trigger, FBI analysis found the gun would not fire any other way, including when a mallet was used to strike the hammer.

Regardless, “It was also determined by consultation with expert armorers that in a rehearsal, a plastic gun or replica gun should be used,” according to the court records. Prosecutors also allege that Baldwin failed to “demand at least two safety checks” by Gutierrez-Reed before shooting Hutchins, which is standard safety protocol.

“Finally, Baldwin directly pointed a firearm at Hutchins and Souza. Whether guided by (Hutchins) directions or not, Baldwin knew the first rule of gun safety is never point a gun at someone you don’t intend on shooting,” according to court records. “Had Baldwin performed the required safety checks with the armorer (Gutierrez-Reed) this tragedy would not have occurred.”

Prosecutors allege Baldwin should have known better after he has touted himself as an “expert” in firearms in filmmaking and having been in at least 40 movies or TV shows that involved him in scenes with guns.

As producer, Baldwin also allowed the hiring of inexperienced crew such as Gutierrez-Reed and prop master Sarah Zackary, both of whom had no certifiable firearms training, according to court records.

There were also two negligent discharges on set in the days leading up to the fatal shooting — one by Zachary — and prosecutors allege Baldwin “failed to act to address this reckless situation” or have Gutierrez-Reed do so.

Baldwin also did not address the “lack of daily safety meetings” and, according to court records, only three or four had been done by the 13th day of filming.

As armorer, investigators found Gutierrez-Reed knew of many of these shortcomings and did not address them or insist changes being made, according to court records. She also did not follow safety protocols herself, leaving ammunition unattended on a cart and handing loaded guns to regular crew members — one of which led to a negligent discharge.

Gutierrez-Reed, according to court records, also did not stay on set with firearms and failed to correct Baldwin from having his finger on the trigger and pointing it at people, shown in rehearsal video.

“Her absence from the set allowed the reckless behavior to happen and continue, resulting in the fatal shooting,” according to court records, adding that her allowing live ammunition onto the set “put everyone on the Rust set in danger.”

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