Alec Baldwin’s trial for involuntary manslaughter related to the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” began on July 9, 2024. This high-profile case follows the recent conviction of armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for her role in the incident and faces up to 18 months in prison.

The incident occurred in October 2021 when Baldwin was rehearsing a scene with a reproduction Colt .45 revolver that discharged, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. The firearm, which Baldwin claims he believed to be safe, contained a live round. This tragic event has sparked intense scrutiny and debate over safety protocols in the film industry.

What you are about to watch in the video below is bodycam footage taken by the police immediately after the fatal shooting.

Key Points of the Case

  1. Safety Protocol Failures:
    • The prosecution argues that basic safety protocols were not followed on the “Rust” set. Testimonies revealed that safety checks were often skipped, and the armorer, Gutierrez-Reed, was overburdened with multiple roles, compromising her ability to ensure weapon safety.
  2. Defense Arguments:
    • Baldwin’s defense team claims he was unaware of the live round in the gun and that the blame lies with Gutierrez-Reed and other crew members who failed to maintain proper safety standards. They also argue that Baldwin was relying on the assurances of safety from the crew, including first assistant director Dave Halls, who has already entered a plea deal for negligent use of a deadly weapon.
  3. Technical Details:
    • FBI firearms experts testified that the revolver used by Baldwin would not discharge without the trigger being pulled, contradicting Baldwin’s initial statements that he did not pull the trigger. This discrepancy is a crucial point of contention in the trial.
  4. Precedents and Implications:
    • This trial is significant as Hollywood rarely sees actors held criminally responsible for on-set accidents. The outcome could set new precedents for accountability and safety regulations within the industry. The prosecution aims to demonstrate that Baldwin’s actions, along with systemic failures on the set, led to Hutchins’ death.

One Military Member’s Point of View

“Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to put a hole in something.” This is what I and millions of other service members have been taught from day one when we started our military training. “ALWAYS treat a firearm as if it is loaded.” At first, it’s not easy; carry a weapon long enough, and your finger naturally tends to gravitate to the trigger. I mean, triggers are meant for fingers, aren’t they? Yes, but only when actively shooting. When not actively shooting, keep your booger picker straight and off the trigger, typically along the frame of the weapon (feel free to substitute the word “gun” or “firearm” for “weapon”) above the trigger guard.

I was a quick learner but still had to knock out numerous pushups because I brushed the trigger of my weapon at a time other than when I was ready to put a big hole in something. “McCardle, get your phucking finger away from that trigger before I come over there and break it off and stuff it up your ass!” I vividly recall hearing as a cadet. Safety is no joke, and an accidental discharge (accidentally firing your weapon when you did not intend to) can have major ramifications. A friend of mine who was in Delta Force tells the story of how if one of their members had an accidental discharge, it was the end of their time with the Unit. One and done. No do-overs. To this day, when I pick up a spray bottle I find myself keeping my finger straight down the side of the bottle and off the trigger unconsciously and out of force of habit.

My point here is that Mr. Baldwin never was in the military. Was he trained in the safe use of prop weapons? Probably, I’m sure that’ll be something that comes out at his trial. Was he under the assumption that the prop gun he was holding was safe because it was loaded with blanks? Perhaps, again, that will come out in the trial. For the record, blanks are not safe. Never fire a blank round directly at anyone. Don’t believe me? Take a minute and Google Jon-Erik Hexum.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that Mr. Baldwin never intended to kill Ms. Hutchins. It’s not a stretch to believe that. I also believe that, in my humble opinion, he is guilty of poor trigger discipline even though he claims he never pulled the trigger. I’ll leave the resolution of that issue up to the legal experts and his jury.