Safety coordinator for 'Rust' movie sentenced to 6 months unsupervised probation - Albuquerque Journal

Safety coordinator for ‘Rust’ movie sentenced to 6 months unsupervised probation

This aerial photo shows the movie set of “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot in October 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

A judge sentenced the safety coordinator for the “Rust” movie set to six months of unsupervised probation Friday and required him to “testify truthfully” in any proceedings involving co-defendants.

David Halls, 63, pleaded no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon in the October 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on the set.

Actor Alec Baldwin was holding the gun when it fired, killing Hutchins.

The plea sets up the possibility that Halls will testify in a scheduled May 3 preliminary hearing for Baldwin and movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who have both pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death.

First Judicial District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer made it a condition of Halls’ suspended sentence that he “testify truthfully in all hearings, trials or settings, involving any and all defendants and co-defendants in this matter.”

She prohibited Halls from having contact with potential witnesses or co-defendants in the case.

Halls is also required to pay a $500 fine, serve 24 hours of community service, and “agree to take responsibility for your actions or inactions.”

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey said Friday that as safety coordinator, Halls had the responsibility to prevent tragedy after Gutierrez-Reed handed him the loaded Colt 45 revolver.

“She explained to Mr. Halls that she had loaded it with dummy rounds,” Morrissey said. “Now the protocol at this point in time is for Mr. Halls to check and confirm. He’s kind of the last line of defense. So he needed to check and confirm that the rounds that were in the gun were actual dummy rounds.”

Halls had a way to “easily check” whether the gun contained dummy rounds, said Morrissey, who was named this week as one of two special prosecutors in the case.

“Mr. Halls did not check every round that was in the gun to confirm that it was a dummy round and not alive round,” she said. “He then handed the gun to Mr. Baldwin.”

Aside from answering the judge’s questions, Halls did not make a statement at the hearing, which was streamed Friday morning on the court’s YouTube channel.

Halls’ attorney, Lisa Torraco, said Halls’ role as safety coordinator did not extend specifically to the safe handling of firearms.

“Mr. Halls does not handle firearms,” Torraco said. “He does not like firearms. His job is not to handle firearms. And so when checking the firearm, he wouldn’t have even thought that there was a live round in that in that gun.”

Torraco acknowledged that Halls checked the pistol after Gutierrez-Reed brought it into the church.

“When he is checking for a firearm at that point in time, he’s checking to se

e if there are blanks or dummy rounds in the firearm,” she said. “Never in anyone’s wildest dreams — never in anyone’s imagination did anyone think that there could possibly be a live round in the firearm.”

The role of a safety coordinator would have been a subject of litigation if Halls case had gone to trial, Torraco said.

“And we deny that it’s the role of the safety coordinator that he is in charge of safety,” she said. “If the people handling the firearms are negligent, he can’t control how other people handle firearms.”

Torraco also told the judge that Halls feels “survivor’s guilt” as a result of Hutchins’ death.

“Mr. Halls has been a lot of pain and a lot of trauma,” Torraco said. “He was three feet from Ms. Hutchins when the firearm went off. No one expected this. This was not even foreseeable.”

Halls’ primary reason for entering the no contest plea is to provide closure for the Hutchins’ family and co-defendants, she said.

“Everybody needs to start processing and moving on,” she said. “And we feel like one way that he can do that, and not make this any more painful than it absolutely has to be, is to come in early, to address it with the court and to close his case.”

 

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