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Final Police Report on ‘Rust’ Killing Shows Negligence, Disorder on Set

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The final police report following a year-long investigation into the accidental on-set shooting death of Rust director of photography Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin has been made public by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department more than two weeks after it was turned over to the local district attorney in New Mexico, Deadline reports.

The report details the events on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 21, 2021 when a gun Alec Baldwin thought to be “cold,” or unloaded, discharged while he was practicing quick-draws and cross-draws with the single-action Colt .45, killing cinematographer Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin has maintained that he “didn’t pull the trigger,” but only cocked the hammer.

According to the report’s depiction, the Western’s set was hampered by disorder and plagued by safety issues long before Hutchins was shot. In fact, there were two “negligent discharges” of prop guns the week before the fatal shooting.

Reese Price, a key grip, told police that an “accidental discharge” had happened “twice last week all in one day” involving armorer Sarah Zachry, the crew member in charge of set props, and others. The first time, the gun went off accidentally while Zachry was holding it pointed at the ground. The second time, a stunt actor cocked a gun and it went off accidentally.

Six dolly grips walked off the job that same day due to safety concerns. John Ziello, the set’s key rigging grip, told investigators that the production “cut every corner they could.”

One major question that the report does not answer was how live ammunition ended up on the set.

“It was not determined where the live rounds on the set came from,” said Juan R. Rios, a spokesman with the Sheriff’s Office told the New York Times on Friday.

Among the evidence released in the report are text messages from Baldwin to Hutchins’ grieving husband, Matthew, beginning two days after his wife was killed, and apparently continuing for weeks.

On December 2, 2021, Baldwin messaged that both he and Hutchins “believed the gun was empty.”

On Dec. 10, 2021, Baldwin shares with Hutchins his fear that local law enforcement not have what it takes to get the job done, writing, “Important for you to keep in mind: The Santa Fe Sheriff’s office may lack both the skill and the will to properly investigate the sabotage angle.”

Although no “sabotage angle” has taken hold, Baldwin was serious at the time, texting, “I’m told their agenda is to write off as an accident and throw it to the civil courts. And yet, the more that is presented to me about certain anomalies on that day, the more open minded I become. I dismiss the sabotage claim initially. But not know. I hope these NM have the sense to follow it through.”

No criminal charges have been brought and neither the D.A. nor the Rust producers have commented on the report. Baldwin lawyer Luke Nikas told Deadline, “Mr. Baldwin fully cooperated with the investigation and turned over his phone with all records, including all records from the day of the incident, to the Suffolk County Police.”

In February, Halyna Hutchins’ family sued Baldwin and the Rust team for wrongful death. Three other crew members also filed suit. Baldwin reached a settlement with the Hutchins family in early October that would entitle Matthew Hutchins to Rust profits if the movie is ever completed, and production is set to resume in California in January.

Earlier this month, Baldwin sued other members of the production for putting the gun in his hands, claiming they were negligent in doing so.

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