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For months, actor Alec Baldwin said he didn’t pull the trigger on a gun that killed a crew member while filming in New Mexico. But new forensic evidence could tell a different story.
The FBI recently completed and sent a report to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation. Officials discovered that the weapon, believed to be a prop, could not be fired without pulling the trigger.
Baldwin’s attorney called the FBI’s findings “misinterpreted,” adding that the gun in question was in “poor condition,” in a statement to NPR.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and, so far, no one has been charged with any wrongdoing, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.
What happened and Baldwin’s response
The incident took place in October, when Baldwin was rehearsing a scene on the outskirts of Santa Fe for an upcoming western, Rust. At the time, the actor was practicing drawing a gun and pointing it at the camera. When the gun fired, a bullet hit and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured the film’s director, Joel Souza.
The state medical examiner identified a gunshot wound to Hutchins’ chest and ruled his death an accident, according to documents obtained by NPR.
In a primetime interview with ABC News last winter, Baldwin denied allegations that he pulled the trigger. “I would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger. Never,” he said.
“Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who it is,” Baldwin added. “But I know it’s not me.”
Several lawsuits in progress
After the fatal incident, Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and the production company.
Others who were on set when Hutchins was killed, including the film’s script supervisor, lead cameraman and production lead nurse, have filed lawsuits for the trauma they suffered.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of the film’s firearms, also sued an ammunition supplier for including live ammunition in an ammunition box that was supposed to contain props only.
Baldwin’s attorneys also filed for arbitration against the production company, arguing that the actor’s contract includes language that protects him from any costs or claims against him. They are also asking for coverage for his legal expenses.
Rust Movie Productions also disputed allegations from the New Mexico Office of Occupational Health and Safety, which fined the film production company nearly $137,000 for violating workplace safety protocols. .
A state office spokesperson told NPR that the company had not been “cooperative” and had not yet paid the fine.
What the latest forensic report shows and what’s next
According to the FBI report, the gun in question “could not be fired without pulling the trigger” while the hammer was cocked at the quarter-and-a-half positions.
Ballistics analysis also revealed that the weapon “could not be brought to fire without pulling the trigger while internal working components were intact and functional” when fully cocked.
“The person in charge of security on set told him the weapon was ‘cold’ and that he thought it was safe,” Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said, adding that Baldwin did not was unaware of the dangerous conditions on set.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, told NPR in a statement, “Recently released FBI reports show the gun was in good working order and Baldwin must have pulled the trigger to fire the gun, directly contradicting his previous statements.”
Bowles said Baldwin “ignored” Gutierrez-Reed’s request to cross-draw, which would have prohibited pointing a gun at anyone or having your finger on the trigger during the cross-draw.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office told NPR that detectives are still waiting to receive and review phone records. Once done, the case will be forwarded to the district attorney for review and a final charging decision.