Security guards block the Bonanza Creek Ranch Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Santa Fe, N.M. A prop firearm fired by actor Alec Baldwin, who is producing and starring in a Western movie, killed his cinematographer and injured the director at the movie set outside Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)
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By Morgan Lee, AP

A codefendant in the case against actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer on a movie set in New Mexico was convicted Friday of unsafe handling of a firearm and sentenced to six months of probation.

Safety coordinator and assistant director David Halls also must pay a $500 fine, complete a gun-safety course and 24 hours of community service after agreeing to the conviction related to the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western movie “Rust.”

Under the plea agreement, Halls agreed to testify truthfully at any upcoming hearings or trials. That includes criminal proceedings against Baldwin and movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who have pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death.

Halls appeared briefly by video to waive his right to challenge the negligence charge, as state District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer approved terms of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Defense attorney Lisa Torraco urged the court not to impose a prison sentence — the maximum possible penalty was 6 months behind bars — noting that Halls was “extremely traumatized and “rattled” with guilt.

Hutchins died shortly after she was shot on Oct. 21, 2021, during rehearsals on a film-set ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the weapon went off; a single live round killed her and wounded director Joel Souza.

If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could face a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and fines.

Torraco said Halls had checked the rounds in the revolver before handing it to Baldwin to see whether they were dummies or blanks with an explosive. She said it was “never in anyone’s imagination” that live rounds would be in the gun.

“When Ms. Gutierrez-Reed brought the firearm … on set into the church, he did check the firearm,” she said of Halls. ”He wouldn’t have even thought that there was a live round in that, in that gun. … And he, like many others, is extremely traumatized.”

But prosecutor Kari Morrissey said Halls, a veteran filmmaker of more than 30 years, failed in his duty as the last line of defense for firearms safety, and that the fatal shooting took place after two earlier weapons misfires on set.

“Mr. Halls did not check every round that was in the gun to confirm that it was a dummy round and not a live round,” she said. “He then handed the gun to Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Baldwin began to practice his cross draw. And during that action of practicing the cross draw, the gun went off. And obviously Mrs. Hutchins was struck by the bullet and was killed. That is the factual basis for Mr. Halls taking the no contest plea to the unsafe handling of a deadly weapon.”

In separate regulatory proceedings, workplace safety authorities have asserted Halls shared responsibility for identifying and correcting any hazardous conditions related to firearms safety in the movie’s production.

A weekslong preliminary hearing in May will decide whether evidence against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed is sufficient to proceed to trial.

In her sentencing, Judge Marlowe Sommer confirmed with Halls that he would “testify truthfully in all hearings, trials, or settings involving any and all defendants and co-defendants in this matter.” Prosecutors can reopen the case if Halls violates the terms of the plea agreement.

Santa Fe’s district attorney this week appointed two special prosecutors, Morrissey and Jason Lewis.

The original special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, resigned following missteps in the initial filing of charges against Baldwin and objections that her role as a state legislator created conflicting responsibilities.

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  1. “When Ms. Gutierrez-Reed brought the firearm … on set into the church, he did check the firearm,” she said of Halls. ”He wouldn’t have even thought that there was a live round in that, in that gun. … And he, like many others, is extremely traumatized.”

    He was traumatized? Give me a fucking break. A beautiful young woman is *dead* due to criminal negligence, and he’s the one traumatized? 🙁

  2. They did the reconstruction movie with Baldwins victims wearing masks.

    Its ironic, despite all the hype about COVID the biggest threat to them was Baldwin.

  3. This report strikes me as unfortunate. I don’t know the facts. The facts can only become apparent at a trial. And this seems to me – I don’t know – like a negotiated path toward a target defendant.

    Halls coped-a-plea, a reasonable plea to give the desired testimony to achieve a goal toward a chosen target, probably Alec Baldwin. A target who does not attract my sympathy. Still, I would like to know the truth of what happened so that a lesson can be learned from this tragedy.

    By way of illustration, perhaps it ought to be an ABSOLUTE RULE that all manufacturers/makers of dummy rounds MUST mark the cartridges distinctively, e.g., with green coloring. (Or, Pink or Purple or Blue; just make a good choice.)

    It seems to me that this Rust incident highlights a genuine need to clearly mark dummy rounds as relatively safe (they are never perfectly safe) so that any actor (whether a cinematography actor or training demonstrator) can be confident that he doesn’t have wad-cutter rounds in the magazine/chamber/cylinder that SEEM to have no bullets.

    And then WE ALL, the PotG, respect that RULE. Never use Green (or Purple, or Blue, or whatever the best choice is) on a LIVE round. And DAMN the asshole who regards it as a God-given right to paint his bullets Green (Purple/Blue/etc.)

    I am NO EXPERT. There ARE experts. These experts are AMONG us PotG. Let us just get our shit together and agree that ‘X’ solution is the ABSOLUTE standard for dummy rounds. So everyone can know: If you do NOT see ‘X’ then it is NOT a blank!

    • The truth you are looking for is that, Baldwin pointed a gun at someone and pulled the trigger. That makes him responsible both because he did it and he was in charge of the whole affair. Was the prop guy also at fault? Yes. His job was to clear the weapon and he didn’t do it. That was obviated by the fact that Baldwin shot someone.

    • “It seems to me that this Rust incident highlights a genuine need to clearly mark dummy rounds as relatively safe (they are never perfectly safe) so that any actor…”

      I don’t think they are commercially-manufactured, but are custom-made for the movie by the armorer employed by the production company.

      And they already have 3 inherent ‘safeties’ built-in, by industry standards.

      No primer, a hole bored through the sidewall of the round, and a metal ball-bearing inside instead of powder. You can tell them by look and sound, if you handle them…

    • dummy rounds have a ball bearing in them that rattles when the round is shaken. the 1st ad is supposed to take every round in hand one by one and shake them to hear the bearing.

      i know this because I work im film and television and ive gone through this process multiple times; specifically when I worked on killing kennedy for nat geo.

      • As noted usually three safety measures on dummy rounds.
        I’ve helped friends with their prop hire business and some rounds for loading scenes don’t have the hole in the case. We put those carefully away the moment the camera stopped.

        Live ammunition was a NO. The idea of taking the “prop gun” out for casual practice with real ammunition would have been a firing offence with possible ban from the business.

    • “And then WE ALL, the PotG, respect that RULE. Never use Green (or Purple, or Blue, or whatever the best choice is) on a LIVE round.“

      “bUt tHaT iNfRInGeS oN mY rIgHT tO UsE ThAT ColOr.”

    • Your post clearly indicates that you are not an expert.I don’t consider myself an expert, but even I know in a single action handgun such as the one involved here, one cannot ascertain just exactly what cartridges are loaded in the gun without extracting each and every cartridge in the cylinder. Merely opening the loading gate and spinning the cylinder will only disclose that some type of cartridge is loaded in the handgun. Except for the base of the cartridge and the primer, nothing of the nature of the cartridge is revealed. Examination of the front of the cylinder as one holds the possibly loaded firearm pointing at one’s face will disclose what 4 of the cartridges are, possibly, but no one I know uses that method of determining the nature of the loads. That’s almost as stupid as what Baldwin did.

      It is immaterial whether the gun was loaded with “safe” cartridges or dangerous cartridges, at the distance involved in this shooting no firearm should be discharged at any living creature one does not wish to kill. I have some experience shooting at inanimate objects with blanks of various calibers and even a .22 blank at close range will burn a 1/4 inch deep hole in a pine board.

      There is no “safe” place to get shot. The very first case I handled involving unsafe gun handling featured a group of drunk Marines fooling around with a service .45. One of them pointed the gun at another Marine and pulled the trigger. The Marine had turned his back to the shooter and the round struck him in the buttocks. Joking and hilarity all around. Except somebody said, “Hey, he’s really bleeding a lot.” By the time the duty corpsman arrived on the scene the unfortunate victim had bled out. The “butt” shot had severed his femoral artery. Shot in the shoulder, the famous movie “It’s only a shoulder wound.” HA! The brachial artery runs through the shoulder. Also there is the little matter of the shoulder joint. Your arm will never be the same after getting shot in the shoulder. There is also the matter of the bullet going in another direction after exiting the joint. Perhaps into lungs and heart, perhaps severing the carotid artery . . .

      No matter what safety measures may be imposed by legislative fiat, the fault for the killing lies strictly with Baldwin who exercise callous disregard for the safety of others. In CA such action is called voluntary manslaughter and the recommended punishment for such callous disregard for the safety of others is confinement in state prison.

      Now as to the guy who was supposed to be insuring safety on site, his is the famous race to the cop-a-plea before the co-defendants can maneuver. He is basically getting the infamous get-out-of-jail-free card. Yeah, he’d better dump on Baldwin or he will find himself standing in front of the judge again. He needs to remember that he is the little fish and Baldwin is the big fish. He won’t get good press from the sycophantic media. He will need to stand up against the Baldwin fans who think Baldwin’s so-called talent excuses all sorts of rudeness and extending even to excusing voluntary manslaughter.
      If his position is licensed, his license should be revoked by the issuing authority. If nothing else, the industry should blackball him for miserably failing at his very important job.

  4. “When Ms. Gutierrez-Reed brought the firearm … on set into the church, he did check the firearm,” she said of Halls. ”He wouldn’t have even thought that there was a live round in that, in that gun”

    So, essentially, he checked the gun but with a prejudice that it was safe (if he checked it at all). Inspecting a firearm with a prejudice that it is already safe, is not an inspection at all. That is referred to as ‘going through the motions’.

    I keep a G42 in my office for laser fire practice. My office is in a finished area of the basement. There is ABSOLUTELY NO AMMUNITION in the basement except for the ammo in my EDC. Yet, everytime I pick up the G42, I drop the mag and inspect the chamber before inserting the laser bullet. You NEVER just go through the motions. You inspect as is someone’s life depends upon it.

    • the problem here is the extra step by Halls. He was the last one to handle the gun before it got into Baldwin hands. the gun should have come straight from the armorer to Baldwin, and according to industry standard both of them should have checked it together. but that process was short circuited (if it were going to take place) by Hall who should have never had his hands on the gun.

      • 40 that’s my thoughts exactly. If the armorer wasn’t on the set, I’ve heard she wasn’t I don’t know, nobody should have been handling any firearms.
        Without the armorer or designated assistant armorer on set the only guns anyone should have been playing with are deactivated or rubber

        • Halls will say anything they want him to say for the slap on the hand he recieved . They will try to put all the blame on the armorer.

  5. Willing to bet he was paid by the Baldwins team to accept the majority of the guilt. Baldwin will get off totally free.

  6. i’m sure that i am going senile, but i thought there was a statement that the gun was pointed in the direction of the camera, ( i guess for the victim’s view), and the gun went off——now he gun went off while practicing a ‘cross draw’. did someone change the script?

    • he was practicing drawing to the camera where it would have been pointed towards the camera. the victims were behind the camera.

  7. “Safety coordinator”, If He said it was Safe, Handled it to others made them believe it was safe, then Alec isn’t guilty. TWO Points of contact. Should He check it? possibly.

    • bob, In gun safety, you do NOT accept a gun from anyone without checking it YOURSELF. If Baldwin did NOT check the gun himself, then he is GUILTY!

    • No possibly. Absolutely. I don’t care if JC himself told me the gun was empty, I would check for myself. Every responsible gun handler of my acquaintance would do the same thing. I try my best not to associate with jerks like Baldwin’s handling of the firearm. If I am range master on a range his conduct would get you tossed off the range immediately. If I saw such conduct on a range I would report it to the range master and if he did nothing or only reprimanded the person, I would leave the range immediately. I would report the range master to those in charge of the organization sponsoring the range and if nothing happened it would be the last time I visited that range.Pointing a firearm at a person you don’t intend to shoot has resulted in far, far too many unnecessary deaths.

  8. a woman is dead because of “negligence”. it has been said baldwin hated her because she had some moderate to conservative points of view. why on earth was he pointing a gun at her? one only points a gun when one intends to kill. why is he not in jail right now? might it be because he is a leftard?

    • “it has been said baldwin hated her because she had some moderate to conservative points of view”

      Right, that’s why he hired her…

      So he could execute this elaborate scheme to kill her…

      “it has been said“

      Probably the same people who said the election was stolen, cue the Cyber Ninjas, the grift is afoot!

  9. Kinda like when the cartels “offer up” a couple of nobodies to take the hit for a “kidnapping”. Sacrificial lamb to avert attention from the dbag who actually pulled the trigger.

  10. Hey! TTAG Contributor!
    “Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the weapon went off”
    Enough with this shit reporting already!

    • Yeah, the gun didn’t “go off.” Baldwin pulled the trigger causing the firearm to discharge. A single action revolver won’t discharge unless the hammer is manipulated or the trigger is manipulated. Unless the firearm has been altered so that the half cock doesn’t work, the gun once past half cock won’t discharge by itself unless the trigger is depressed. That’s how “fanning” works. The trigger is fully depressed and the operator cocks the hammer and releases it. Fanny does not work if the trigger isn’t fully depressed. I suspect that Baldwin may have pulled the hammer back and depressed the trigger and inadvertently released the hammer. Even so, pointing a gun at someone you don’t intend to shoot should never happen. So in my book, whatever manipulation Baldwin did doesn’t really matter that much. He intended to point the gun in the direction of the woman and that is the act that sets the criminal charge in motion. Even if the gun through the action of evil spirits had discharged without Baldwin even having his finger near the trigger, he would still be guilty of voluntary manslaughter as I interpret the jury instruction in CA because pointing a firearm at an individual is inherently dangerous in and of itself. All of the foregoing is despite what I believe to be the interpretation used to allow early release from prison for “non-violent” felons, that merely firing a firearm at a police officer is “non-violent.” Poor marksmanship is rewarded by early release from prison.

  11. RE: “Prosecutors can reopen the case if Halls violates the terms of the plea agreement.”

    Stating baldwin was practicing a cross draw and the firearm went off violates the terms of the plea agreement to tell the truth.

    Six shooters like the one used by baldwin just do not go off. The condition of the firearm was good and it took baldwin pulling the trigger to fire the gun. Practicing a cross draw with the trigger cocked is impractical.

    What you have are actors who pretend to be people they are not. However they clearly do not have to pretend to be careless knuckleheads, etc.

  12. “Hutchins died shortly after she was shot on Oct. 21, 2021”
    and hutchins also died shortly after michael sussman was indicted*
    *michael sussman was:
    1 the only lawyer from the 2016 HILLARY CAMPAIGN that was indicted in the durham probe
    2 being represented in THAT court proceeding
    by THE SAME law firm that halyna hutchins’ husband worked for

  13. 6 months jail for death seems way low!

    You can get up to 12 years in my state if you are found guilty of workplace safety violations causing death.

  14. Regardless of any other’s responsibility, anyone handling a firearm must adhere to four rules of gun safety:

    1. Treat every gun as though loaded….with live rounds for those Libturds among us.
    2. Never point a fun at anything your are not ready, willing to destroy.
    3. Never put your finger on the trigger until on the target.
    4. Be sure of what is beyond your target.

    FRY BALDWIN…couldn’t happen to a bigger, more deserving ahole…..sell tickets.


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