New report casts doubt over actor's account of fatal 'Rust' shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Prosecutors have received a second expert analysis of the revolver fired in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of Western film Rust in New Mexico, as they weigh whether to refile charges against the actor.
Baldwin has said the gun fired accidentally after he followed instructions to point it toward cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, who was behind the camera in rehearsal. Baldwin said he pulled back the hammer — but not the trigger — and the gun fired, fatally wounding Hutchins on 21 October 2021, at a movie ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe.
Special prosecutors dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April, saying they were informed the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. They commissioned a new analysis of the gun, along with other weapons and ammunition from the set of Rust, which moved filming from New Mexico to Montana.
The new gun analysis from experts in ballistics and forensic testing based in Arizona and New Mexico relied on replacement parts to reassemble the gun fired by Baldwin — after parts of the pistol were broken during earlier testing by the FBI. The new report examines the gun and markings it left on a spent cartridge to conclude that the trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.
“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,” states the analysis led by Lucien Haag of Forensic Science Services in Arizona.
An attorney for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the weapons supervisor on the movie set, disclosed the report in a court filing. Last week, Gutierrez-Reed pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case. Her trial is scheduled to begin on 6 December.
Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey said in an email that a formal announcement on whether to refile any charges against Baldwin is forthcoming.
In an early June court filing, prosecutors gave themselves 60 days to renew a case against Baldwin, contingent on a determination that the gun did not malfunction.
“A possible malfunction of the gun significantly effects causation with regard to Baldwin,” they wrote.
Authorities have not specified exactly how live ammunition found its way on set and into the .45-caliber revolver made by an Italian company that specializes in 19th century reproductions.
It is not yet clear whether the findings of the new report will result in charges against Alec Baldwin being refiled.