April 22nd, 2024

Witness at trial recounts fatal shooting of cinematographer by Alec Baldwin

By Morgan Lee, The Associated Press on February 26, 2024.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – Testimony at trial Monday turned emotional and argumentative as an eyewitness recounted the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a movie rehearsal and described gun misfires, crew members walking out and a “ludicrous” pace of work.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was the armorer for the upcoming Western movie “Rust,” is fighting charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence at a trial that entered its third day of testimony Monday. A trial date was set for Baldwin in July on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. He has pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorneys highlighted Gutierrez-Reed’s unusual disadvantage and vulnerability at the time as a part-time, 24-year-old armorer without trade-union membership on a set where few dared confront Baldwin directly about concerns about safety and related budgeting.

Monday’s testimony veered into the actor’s handling of the revolver that killed Hutchins – including a video of Baldwin twice practicing a cross-draw maneuver for a camera on Oct. 21, 2021, shortly before the fatal shooting that day. Investigators found no video of the shooting.

The video of Baldwin was accompanied by searing testimony from Ross Addiego, a front-line “Rust” crew member who helped guide the film’s camera. Addiego said that in the moments after a shot rang out on set, he made eye contact with a wounded Hutchins and tried to calm wounded director Joel Souza.

“The first person I made eye contact with was Halyna, who was clearly injured. In fact, she was starting to go flush and I think holding her right side,” said Addiego, breaking into tears. “I think I yelled out, “˜If you can’t help, get … out of here, and someone call 911.'”

Prosecutors guided Addiego through testimony in which he described his anger and frustration with safety procedures on set, including the sight of a storage cart for guns and ammunition that frequently appeared to be unattended and Gutierrez-Reed’s work as an armorer in charge of loading guns with blank and dummy rounds. Investigators found six live rounds on the set of “Rust,” including the one that killed Hutchins.

Addiego noted two gun misfires on set – confirmed as blank rounds without projectiles by workplace safety regulators – and just one safety meeting over the course about two work weeks, when daily meetings are the norm.

He said he lodged safety complaints prior to the fatal shooting with union representatives and the film’s top safety official, assistant director David Halls, who pleaded no contest last year to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon and may be called on to testify.

“At times we seemed to be working at ludicrous speeds,” said Addiego, who also testified to the grand jury that indicted Baldwin in January. “We always seemed to be rushed and under the gun.”

In a tense cross-examination, defense attorney Jason Bowles asked Addiego whether he was aware that Gutierrez-Reed had unsuccessfully requested more time for focus on her responsibilities as armorer instead of other prop duties, such as rolling cowboy cigarettes.

“Did you ever stand up to Mr. Baldwin and say, “˜No, we’re not going to move this fast?'” Bowles asked.

“That’s not my job,” Addiego said.

Bowles continued: “With everybody else, grown men, not standing up to Mr. Baldwin, wouldn’t you find that difficult for her also?”

He noted that Addiego has sued Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions and questioned his motives in testifying.

“Are you hoping that you can come in and testify here today and something happens to Ms. Gutierrez-Reed and it will help your lawsuit?” Bowles asked.

“I’m hoping for justice, sir,” Addiego responded. “Two people where injured on a film set. That has affected not only me, that has affected the film industry.”

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