An informal experiment conducted by the top prosecutor now weighing possible criminal charges in the deadly Rust shooting reportedly found that Alec Baldwin’s claim he didn’t pull the trigger isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary D.A. Carmack-Altwies told Vanity Fair in a new interview published Friday that she requested the unofficial test inside her office after Baldwin claimed in a TV interview with George Stephanopoulos that his finger wasn’t even on the trigger of his antique Colt 45 revolver when it fired the shot that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. It incident occurred on the New Mexico set of the indie western movie last October.
Speaking to Stephanopoulos, Baldwin said he simply pulled the revolver’s hammer back without fully cocking the gun — as part of an exercise purportedly directed by Hutchins so she could work out a close-up shot of the moving barrel — and that the weapon fired when he released the hammer.
Carmack-Altwies said her initial reaction to Baldwin’s claim was, “Oh, that’s crazy.” Then she decided to dig deeper, even though the formal examination of the Rust revolver is in the hands of the FBI.
“One of the investigators in my office happens to have a very old-type revolver, and so he brought it, at my request, so that we could look at it and see if that was at all possible,” Carmack-Altwies told Vanity Fair.
She said the group cleared a room in her office, made sure the weapon was empty, and attempted to reenact Baldwin’s actions leading up to the deadly shooting.
“They visually showed me,” Carmack-Altwies said. “You can pull the hammer back without actually pulling the trigger and without actually locking it. So you pull it back partway, it doesn’t lock, and then if you let it go, the firing pin can hit the primer of the bullet.”
The criminal investigation into the shooting remains ongoing. Hutchins’ husband, meanwhile, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against Rust’s producers, Baldwin, assistant director Dave Halls, rookie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, prop master Sarah Zachry, and the set’s “armorer mentor” Seth Kenney.
Baldwin’s lawyer, Aaron Dyer, released a statement saying, “any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false.”
The lawyer said Baldwin and Hutchins both relied on the crew members responsible for checking the guns and were told the firearm was “cold,” meaning not loaded with any live rounds at the time of the shooting.
In a separate lawsuit, Gutierrez-Reed alleges that Kenney and his company PDQ Arm & Prop “deceptively sold” boxes of ammunition labeled “45 Colt Dummies” that in truth contained a deadly mix of “both dummy and live ammunition.” Kenney has denied any wrongdoing in the case.
“Actors should be able to rely on armorers and prop department professionals, as well as assistant directors, rather than deciding on their own when a gun is safe to use,” Baldwin’s lawyer said in his statement.