Nolte: Prosecutors Say Alec Baldwin Skipped Gun Safety Training

Alec Baldwin moments after her shot Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer on “Rust,” and director Joel Souza. Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP
Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP

Alec Baldwin skipped gun safety training, per a probable cause filing by the Santa Fe, New Mexico, district attorney.

Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Here’s the first money quote: [emphasis original throughout]

Statements and evidence show [ALEC] BALDWIN was not present for required firearms training prior to the commencement of filming. Statements, depositions from OSHA, and evidence show BALDWIN was provided only minimal training on firearms, even after [armorer and co-defendant Hannah Gutierrez-] REED requested more training for BALDWIN. In the deposition taken from REED, she stated BALDWIN had very limited training on the cross draw that was required for the scene on the 21st and limited training in firearms and how to check his firearm as to whether it was unloaded or loaded, in which REED felt was very important in his role as RUST.

The “limited training on the cross draw” is important to note because the cross draw was what Baldwin was practicing when he accidentally shot and killed Hutchins and wounded writer/director Joel Souza.

The cross-draw is a tricky move. You are pulling the firearm from the opposite side of your gun hand.

According to prosecutors, when Baldwin did find time for firearm safety training, he didn’t take it very seriously:

A training session for at least an hour or more in length was scheduled, but the actual training consisted of only 30 minutes as according to REED, BALDWIN was distracted and talking on his cell phone to his family during training.

The DA filing also makes mincemeat of Baldwin’s laughable claim he did not pull the trigger:

BALDWIN approached responding deputies on the day of the shooting wanting to talk to them because he was the one who “…fired…” the gun.

So, according to authorities, at first, Baldwin admitted he fired the gun. But then…

BALDWIN later asserted he never fired the revolver, and that it had just “…gone off…” BALDWIN made this assertion in public as well in multiple media interviews conducted after the shooting.

The filing goes on to lay out how the FBI tested the firearm and found it in no way defective:

The analysis clearly showed that the weapon could not ‘accidentally fire’; for the weapon to fire, the trigger has to have been depressed.

The DA is also holding Baldwin responsible for the shooting in his role as a Rust producer:

In his producer position, the evidence indicates BALDWIN also did not act to address the lack of daily safety meetings that are required to be conducted by the 1st assistant director. Evidence indicates that on or about the 13th day of filming, only three (3) or four (4) safety meetings were conducted by the assistant director.

The statement lays out all the breakdowns in expected protocol leading up to the shooting and concludes with:

BALDWIN’s deviation from known standards, practice and protocol directly caused the fatal shooting of Hutchins. By not receiving the required training on firearms, not checking the firearm with the armorer, letting the armorer leave the church [set] without being present, deviating from the practice of only accepting firearms from the armorer, not dealing with safety complaints on set and/or making sure safety meetings were held, putting his finger on the trigger of a real firearm when a replica or rubber gun should have been used, pointing the firearm at HUTCHINS and SOUZA, and the overall handling of the firearm in a negligent manner, BALDWIN acted with willful disregard for the safety of others and in a manner that endangered people, specifically HUTCHENS [sic] and SOUZA. BALDWIN clearly should have known the danger of his actions which led to the death of HUTCHINS.

This sounds like a pretty convincing case for an involuntary manslaughter charge, a felony that could land Baldwin in prison for 18 months.

Two words of caution…

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is facing a similar charge, and it is in her interest to make others look as negligent as possible.

Secondly, the defense still has to make its case and will have the opportunity to blow holes in what the DA calls “evidence,” as well as witness statements.

Listen, I don’t like Alec Baldwin, but due process is due process, and he has a right to due process. This was an accident, a terrible accident, with no intent to harm anyone.

In my book, intent matters. Baldwin doesn’t only face jail time; he also faces the annihilation of his whole life—his career, his legacy, the way his children will remember him, and possibly his fortune.

The punishment should fit crime. I’m open to the idea that he might have been criminally negligent, but the DA will have to prove that to me.

Through the criminal justice system, we give the State enormous power to strip people of their rights, liberty, reputation, livelihood, money, and even their life. This power must be challenged and re-challenged at every turn.

Baldwin is not an easy guy to defend. He’s a world-class jerk, his BS about not pulling the trigger is infuriating, and his overall behavior post-shooting has been indefensible. But due process and the presumption of innocence are for everyone, even Alec Baldwin.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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