Rust Assistant Director's Lawyer: It Wasn't His Job to Check Gun

She pushes back on narrative that Dave Halls called out 'cold gun,' handed it to Baldwin
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2021 2:04 AM CDT
Rust Assistant Director's Lawyer: It Wasn't His Job to Check Gun
Russ Backers, a stagehand and welder in IATSE Local 33, lays down his union pin for the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a candlelight vigil for her, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Burbank, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Dave Halls, assistant director for Rust, has come under scrutiny since the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, with police saying he admitted he didn't fully check the gun in question before handing it to Alec Baldwin, who was holding it when it went off. But a lawyer for Halls says it wasn't the AD's job to do that, the New York Times reports. "What I can tell you is that expecting an assistant director to check a firearm is like telling the assistant director to check the camera angle or telling the assistant director to check sound or lighting," she said in an interview on Fox News. Rather, it's the job of the armorer (who has also come under scrutiny), she said.

The film's director, Joel Souza, apparently disagrees, as Souza told a detective that while the armorer checked the firearms first, Halls checked them after her and then handed them off to the actors who were using them. A veteran armorer not involved in the film also says ADs commonly check guns on sets. Halls' attorney also disputed the entire narrative of the lead-up to the shooting: "This idea that my client grabbed the gun off of a prop cart and handed it to Mr. Baldwin absolutely did not happen," she said on Fox, though the network says she "avoided direct answers" about exactly what did happen. Per CNN, she said she's heard varying scenarios from those on set, including one in which it was the armorer who handed Baldwin the gun. She also said Halls is in shock and "having a hard time sorting out what happened."

Halls issued his first official statement to the New York Post on Monday, calling Hutchins a friend and saying, "It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again." Indeed, 200 Hollywood cinematographers have signed a group statement of purpose calling for the banning of all functional firearms on film sets, pledging not to let Hutchins' death be in vain, Deadline reports. Meanwhile, Baldwin on Tuesday shared a post from a costume designer disputing the narrative that the Rust set was unsafe, per the Hollywood Reporter. The lengthy post does, however, say the AD "made the most horrible call he could make" on that particular day, but that he hadn't generally been flippant about safety. (Read more Halyna Hutchins stories.)

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