Alec Baldwin could still be charged for the death of Halyna Hutchins

A new analysis of the gun that killed the ‘Rust’ cinematographer indicates that the trigger had to be pulled

Luis Pablo Beauregard
Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin leaving his New York apartment in January 2023.DAVID DEE DELGADO (REUTERS)

Actor Alec Baldwin faces a potential new investigation into the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was accidentally shot on the set of Rust in October 2021. In April, investigators dropped the charges against Baldwin, who was holding the prop gun that ended Hutchins’ life. But a new report into the fatal shooting has cast doubt over Baldwin’s account of events, meaning charges could be refiled.

Baldwin — the producer and the star of the movie — claims that he never pulled the trigger of the prop gun. But weapons experts now say that the trigger would have “had to be pulled.” This new report was conducted by forensic experts and ballistics experts from Arizona and New Mexico. The experts had to use spare parts to rebuild the Colt 45 revolver used by Baldwin, which was rendered useless after an FBI analysis. The new tests focused on the marks that the mechanism of the weapon left in a shell casing.

“Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver,” said an excerpt of the weapons report included in the court documents.

FBI experts reached the same conclusion in August 2022. Their findings also contradicted Baldwin, who has maintained from the beginning that he only had contact with the hammer, and did not pull the trigger.

The new analysis raises tensions between the New Mexico Prosecutor’s Office and Baldwin’s defense team, who have been fighting for months to prevent their client from being charged for Hutchins’ death.

In April, prosecutors in the case said they were dropping the charges of involuntary manslaughter against Baldwin, but said this did not “absolve Mr Baldwin of criminal culpability.” At the time, prosecutors believed that it would be difficult to win the case in court after learning that the gun, a replica made by an Italian company, had been modified before the shoot. This may have caused a malfunction during the rehearsal on set.

Kari Morrissey, the special prosecutor in the case who was appointed in March, has not made it clear what she will do with the new findings. However, she has not ruled out refiling charges against Baldwin. The prosecution set a two-month period in early June to decide whether to file new charges.

Nearly two years have passed since Hutchins was killed on the set of Rust. The case shook Hollywood and raised many questions about safety on set. Since her death, neither the authorities nor the production team have been to answer the big mystery of the case: how did live rounds get on set? The movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and pleaded not guilty. Her trial is set to begin in December.

Jason Bowles, a lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed, has said the new report shows that the revolver was not modified, which would undermine the claim that the gun was fired by mistake. Tests conducted by the FBI last August revealed that the only way the gun could fire with the hammer de-cocked was when the hammer was “struck directly.”

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