Alec Baldwin Charged in "Rust" Shooting Death

The District Attorney's office in Santa Fe has concluded its investigation into the shooting death that occurred during the filming of the movie "Rust".

Alec Baldwin and the film's armorer, Hannah Guiterrez-Reed, who was in charge of handling guns and ammunition on the set are being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The first assistant director, Dave Hall, who handed the weapon to Baldwin declaring it safe, took a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to "negligent use of a deadly weapon" in exchange for a suspended sentence and probation. [More...]

Alec's lawyer says:

“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’s tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. 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.”

In Baldwin's civil lawsuit against the others, he claimed (correctly in my view):

“This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun,” the lawsuit said. It accused Ms. Gutierrez-Reed of failing to check the bullets or the gun carefully; Mr. Halls of failing to check the gun carefully before announcing it was safe and handing it to Mr. Baldwin; and Ms. Zachry of breaching her duty as props master by failing to ensure the safety of the weapons and ammunition on the set.

It's also questionable whether Guitierrez-Reed was qualified for the job as armorer. Her father was a famous armorer and she hung around sets with him. This was only her second job as armorer:

Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, who had been learning how to be an armorer from her father, Thell Reed, a Hollywood weapons expert, was just getting started as a head armorer herself. In a recent podcast, she noted that she had just finished filming her first movie as head armorer, a western called “The Old Way” starring Nicolas Cage, and confided that “I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready.”

Stu Brumbaugh, a key grip on “The Old Way,” said in an interview that he had recommended Ms. Gutierrez-Reed be fired after he witnessed two unannounced discharges of weapons she was holding, startling others and in one case prompting an angry reaction from Mr. Cage. She was kept on, he said, which he saw as evidence of a broader problem in which producers try to cut costs by hiring less experienced crews. The incident was reported earlier by CNN.

I don't think her lawyer helped her with this statement:

A lawyer for Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, 25, who trained on film sets with her father, a veteran Hollywood armorer named Thell Reed, had previously said she filled two roles on the “Rust” set — as armorer and props assistant — which made it difficult for her to focus fully on her job as armorer.

There are two versions of involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico. One carries a maximum sentence of 18 months. The other, also has an 18 month cap, but includes a mandatory five year sentence as a firearm enhancement, and applies to cases involving more than simple negligence. Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have been charged with both, in the alternative, meaning the jury will decide which version applies to each.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Corporate malfeasance (none / 0) (#1)
    by hornplayer on Thu Jan 19, 2023 at 03:56:06 PM EST
    Hire a barely-old-enough-to-drink "professional" with literal life and death in their hands. Then expand their responsibility to two roles. Primarily because of nepotism.

    I don't think the lawyer did his client any favors, but you can't blame him for getting to the crux of the issue, the same issue we always face in this country: the fat cats are too fat, and only interested in being fatter.

    Baldwins continued insistence (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Jan 20, 2023 at 07:01:32 AM EST
    that he never pulled the trigger does not help his credibility.

    Baldwin's defense attorney appears to have (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jack E Lope on Mon Jan 23, 2023 at 02:09:52 PM EST
    ...started sowing doubt about the FBI's forensic testing. Based on statements from that defense attorney, the gun broke during FBI's testing and now will not fire from a trigger pull, either. He claims that they were able to get it to fire in one instance without the trigger being pulled. (I know that pin-on-hammer revolvers can fire without a trigger pull - but it usually takes a noticeable impact to make that happen.)

    Read the rest of this with my non-attorney status in mind:
    If the charges are about negligence as the managing Producer, pulling the trigger should be moot.

    There were reports of other unexpected discharges of blanks on the set. Without other details, I expect that those reports might tend to support Baldwin's case about not pulling the trigger, but would undermine a defense against being negligent about on-set safety.


    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jan 23, 2023 at 04:17:56 PM EST
    he should probably not be saying anything.  

    Having worked on budget productions I can sympathize with the cutting corners.   But we never had guns on my budget productions.


    Five years is a long time for an obvious mistake (none / 0) (#3)
    by McBain on Fri Jan 20, 2023 at 01:46:19 PM EST
    Is this one of those manslaughter cases where the prosecution needs to prove reckless behavior?  If so, I don't see that here.  

    To make it stick, prosecutors will have to prove criminal negligence. That is, they're claiming that Baldwin failed to act with reasonable caution and thus put another person at risk of injury or death.

    It's important to note that in this case, Alec Baldwin wasn't being necessarily indicted for his documented actions on the set as an actor, so much as for his alleged negligence as the film's producer, in which prosecutors claim that he completely failed to ensure that firearm safety protocols were being followed on the set.

    It was pointed out at the time of Ms. Hutchins' death that several members of the film crew had quit the production a few days prior to the tragedy, and their departure was allegedly due to the mishandling of firearms by the armorer and prop manager. That may have something to do with yesterday's charges against Baldwin, but I could be wrong in that assessment so please don't hold me to that.

    As the producer, Alec Baldwin is certainly liable civilly for the actions or non-actions of his employees. But as a criminal matter, I do agree with you. I think it's rather a stretch to claim that his failure to decisively exercise his authority as producer rises to the level of felony criminality.



    Pointing a gun (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Jan 26, 2023 at 03:22:25 PM EST

    Pointing a gun at another human being is dangerous.  Doing so without taking a few seconds to see it has only dummy rounds and not live rounds is reckless, IMHO.

    If he was just playing with a gun (none / 0) (#10)
    by McBain on Sun Jan 29, 2023 at 10:46:32 AM EST
    and didn't have any reason to be pointing it at someone, that would be reckless.  An actor trying to make a scene look realistic, that's different.  What makes it complicated to me is Baldwin being a producer.  He's supposed to have more responsibility.



    The type of producer (none / 0) (#11)
    by BGinCA on Mon Jan 30, 2023 at 10:52:52 AM EST
    Baldwin was on thiis film would have very little to do with the day to day operations on set. He was probably responsible for the development of the script, financing and casting. Maybe hiring certain department heads including cinematographer. I doubt that he would have taken any note of the armorer. However, the decision to use non-union scab workers was directly his responsiblity, resulting in a horrible tragedy. A terrible hypocrite.

    Baldwin and the armorer (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Jan 23, 2023 at 09:19:01 PM EST
    had spent an afternoon just before the incident at a gun range getting familiar with the gun, and it worked fine.

    Then, months after the incident, the FBI tested the gun and broke parts of it, and apparently when the parts broke the gun fired. Although apparently these parts broke after they determined that the gun would not fire unless the trigger was pulled, which is exactly how the gun should work.  

    The actor's public claim "I didn't pull the trigger" was also contradicted by the FBI analysis of the vintage Colt handgun that fired the fatal shot. "With the hammer at full cock, the revolver could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional," according to the report. The FBI lab also states that releasing the hammer when it was pulled back only a quarter half did not result in enough impact to fire a round.
    The FBI analysis of the gun contradicts Baldwin's claim. "With the hammer at ¼ and ½ cock positions, the revolver could not be made to fire without the pull of the trigger," the document states. Also, with the hammer only pulled back to those partial positions, "there was not enough force to detonate the primer in either circumstance."

    Baldwin pulled the trigger. Whether he thinks or admits he did it, or not, he pulled the trigger.

    ianal, so I have no idea what effect that will have during his trial.

    That's what I think too (none / 0) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jan 24, 2023 at 08:13:32 AM EST
    he might have even convinced himself he did not.

    Firearm enhancement dropped (none / 0) (#12)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Feb 20, 2023 at 03:13:52 PM EST
    And quite rightly so (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Peter G on Mon Feb 20, 2023 at 08:58:39 PM EST
    The case should never have been charged criminally. And if it was to be charged at all, was overcharged. IMO.