‘Rust’ Assistant Director First to Face Accountability in Halyna Hutchins Shooting Death
Dave Halls, who worked as an assistant director on Rust, became the first person involved with the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins to face accountability after entering a plea of no contest on Friday, March 31.
As Variety reports, Hall appeared remotely for a hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and entered the no-contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. Halls will not face any jail time and will serve six months of unsupervised probation.
Halls was among the figures on the Rust set who garnered the most scrutiny after the Oct. 2021 incident. According to early accounts, armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed allegedly handed the prop gun to Halls, who then handed it to Alec Baldwin, who then discharged it. Halls also allegedly said the prop gun was “cold,” meaning it had no live rounds. (After the shooting, it also emerged that Halls was fired from a movie set in 2019 over what producers characterized as the negligent discharge of a firearm.)
Halls denied both those allegations in a recent deposition, saying he remembered Gutierrez-Reed giving the gun to Baldwin. During an initial interview with the sheriff’s department, however, Halls admitted that he did not check all the rounds of the prop gun but should have.
The extent of what Halls is copping to in the plea is still somewhat up for debate. Prosecutor Kari Morrissey shared a statement with the court that said in part, “[Halls] is the last line of defense. He needed to check and confirm that the rounds in the gun were actually dummy rounds. Mr. Halls did not check every round that it was in the gun to confirm that it was a dummy round.”
His lawyer, however, Lisa Torraco, pushed back on the state’s claim that Halls was responsible for on-set safety, saying, “He can’t control how other people handle firearms.”
Still, Torraco said Halls agreed to the no-contest plea to “make things easier” for Hutchins’ family: “Everybody needs to start processing and moving on. Mr. Halls is in a lot of pain and a lot of trauma.” (Torraco did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.)
Despite the no-contest plea, Halls isn’t fully out of the Rust shooting litigation thicket just yet. In May, he’s expected to testify during a preliminary hearing as prosecutors start their involuntary manslaughter cases against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed (both have pleaded not guilty). Back in Dec. 2022, Halls also filed a countersuit against Baldwin and other members of the Rust crew, essentially seeking to protect himself from any legal issues tied to the shooting. His complaint cites an agreement that allegedly says he should be indemnified and have his legal costs covered over any incidents during production causing personal injury, death, or damage.
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