February 3, 2023

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‘Rust’ Eddie Dave Halls Gives His Version of the Shooting (Exclusive)

6 min read

Dave Halls, first assistant director of “Rust,” became the first person charged in the death of Halina Hutchins when he agreed to plead to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

In a win for prosecutors, Halls is also expected to testify against Alec Baldwin and Armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed when they go to trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.

But obtained by a deposition in December diversityHalls has denied allegations about his role in the shooting and has said no one is responsible for Hutchins’ death.

“I think it’s a sad series of mistakes that happened,” Halls said. “It’s just like what they say about a plane crash. It’s just not like a thing, you know. This is a system failure.”

Hall’s recollection of the events of that day differs in important ways from accounts derived from the accounts of others. Assuming he is called to testify, the defense will likely highlight those inconsistencies.

“We are aware of the apparent conflict of testimony,” said Heather Brewer, spokeswoman for the Santa Fe District Attorney. “However, we are confident that there is more than enough evidence to demonstrate negligence and ensure justice for Halina Hutchins.”

Halls has not spoken to the media about the October 2021 shooting, and his account of that day has not been previously reported.

On December 13, he participated in a Zoom deposition with attorneys for the New Mexico Bureau of Occupational Health and Safety, which is seeking $136,793 in fines for workplace safety violations.

Hutchins, the cinematographer, was killed while preparing to film a scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. Baldwin was holding a Colt .45 when it fired a single live round. Investigators could not determine how the live round made it into the set.

Gutierrez Reed loaded the gun, and did not notice a color difference between the live rounds and the inert dummy rounds that bore the same Starline brass brand markings.

Hall has come under fire for two actions just before the shooting. First, according to the widely reported narrative, Halls took the gun from Gutierrez Reed and handed it to Baldwin. (First AD doesn’t usually touch firearms on set.) Second, he declared it a “cold gun,” meaning it didn’t carry an explosive charge.

But in his deposition, Halls denied that he did either of those things.

Hall testified that Gutierrez checked the gun with Reed — as was their common practice — and then he was the one who handed it directly to Baldwin.

He also said that he did not declare that it was a “cold gun”.

“I have no recollection of saying anything like that,” Halls said. “I remember Hannah.”

Hall’s version conflicts with Gutierrez Reed’s account, which he gave in a police interview and in his own OSHA deposition, which took place on December 7. He says he passed the gun to Hall and Baldwin wasn’t there. When he left the room.

In an email, Gutierrez Reed’s attorney said Halls made a mistake.

“Mr. Halls is absolutely wrong about this and he pointed the gun at Mr. Baldwin and yelled ‘cold gun,'” said the attorney, Jason Bowles. “That will be proven in court.”

Investigators also heard conflicting statements from other witnesses. Boom operator Jack Sneesby said he saw him hand the gun to Hall. But Dolly Grip Ross Adigo said she handed it to Baldwin.

Baldwin gave conflicting accounts, initially telling investigators Gutierrez Reed gave him the gun, but later saying it belonged to Hall. In his first interview, Baldwin said he just assumed the gun was “cool.” But in a later account, Baldwin said Halls declared it a “cold gun.”

The film’s director, Joel Souza, told police that Halls had declared a “cold gun” while they were filming earlier in the day. But Souza, who was hit in the shoulder by a bullet, said he didn’t remember if Halls also said that just before the shooting.

In his deposition, Gutierrez Reid said he never used the term “cold gun.”

“I don’t like the term ‘cold gun,'” he testified. “I know it’s thrown around a lot on set. That was mostly Dave’s terminology.”

Gutierrez’s accounts of Reed and Hall differ in another significant way. In his telling, Hall is making a decision about the gun. But in his version, he was.

Gutierrez Reed testified that Halls asked him to bring the gun into the church building. He said that normally, when the crew lined up the cameras, he would bring a plastic gun, but Halls wanted him to bring the real one. He too felt it wanting urgently, forcing him to run.

“He was like, okay, hurry up, get the gun over here,” she testified. He said he brought the gun, which he had already loaded with a dummy, and asked Hall to check the weapon. Halls replied that “we don’t have time,” he testified.

He said he rotated the cylinder to allow Hall to see the dummies and then left the gun with him. He said he moved out of the house partly because of the Covid restrictions on building occupancy and also had to perform other prop and armourer duties.

“They usually don’t put me in there unless we’re actually shooting ammunition,” he said.

Hall tells a much different account. According to Hall, Gutierrez brought the Reid gun into the building and showed him it was empty — no dummy. He then handed it to Baldwin.

A few minutes later, he returned and told her, “I put a dummy round in the gun.” He said he decided to do it of his own free will.

“Because it was a tight shot of this revolver, I think Hannah made a creative decision that, you know, there should be dummy rounds to make sure the gun was loaded,” Hall testified.

He showed Halls the gun again, and he saw three or four rounds—all of which appeared to be dummy because they had depressed primers. He doesn’t remember if he cut the cylinder or not. He then returned the gun to Baldwin, Halls said.

He said he did not know if he left the church after that.

Hall testified that at one point, Baldwin adjusted his shoulder holster and briefly asked Halls to hold the gun. He said he held the handle with two fingers away from his body like a “smelly diaper.”

“So that’s when I got the gun,” he said.

Asked if he would have done anything differently in retrospect, he said he would have asked Gutierrez Reed to load the dummies in front of him.

When the gun went off, Halls said he assumed it was a blank — a round with an explosive charge but no projectile.

“It was unimaginable that a film set could contain live rounds of ammunition,” he testified.

In the chaos that ensued, Baldwin placed a gun in a church pew. Halls picks it up and brings it outside to Gutierrez Reed, who watches as he unloads it. Five dummy rounds and one spent shell casing were found with them.

Asked how he could get a live round on set, Halls replied: “I have no idea.”

Halls defended the manufacturing’s overall safety practices. He pushed back at criticism that he did not hold enough security meetings, saying he did so “almost every day”. And he testified that he believed Gutierrez Reed was a skilled armorer.

Gutierrez was unemployed for a year after Reed “rusted out”. She now does social media for a commercial real estate company in Arizona.

Hall’s attorney, Lisa Torraco, declined to comment for this story, citing pending charges.

Hall lived in New Mexico at the time of the shooting, but has since moved to Minnesota. He acted in about 30 to 40 films in a career of 30 years, but now retired as the first AD.

“I don’t want to do that job anymore,” he testified.

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