The events that occurred on the set of Rust in October 2021 were extremely tragic. During the filming of the upcoming Western, a live round was discharged from a prop revolver. This happened as Alec Baldwin, the film's lead and executive producer, attempted to demonstrate a holster draw as part of a scene. This resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the incident. The production was shut down and the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office began an in-depth investigation.
In January 2023, Baldwin and the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, were both charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Elsewhere, first assistant director David Halls agreed to plead guilty on a charge of the negligent use of a deadly weapon. In late February, Baldwin pled not guilty to the charges. Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were scheduled to begin their trial proceedings May 3.
Baldwin Charges Dropped
A lot of information was made public in the aftermath of the incident. Gutierrez-Reed and Halls were both revealed to have had previous complaints relating to their firearm negligence. The incident also occurred during discussions about a production staff strike, specifically for the IATSE union, to which several Rust production staff members belonged. Finally, the FBI contested Baldwin's claim that he did not pull the trigger on the prop gun. Firearms specialists showed the gun could not have been fired without pulling the trigger, and there was no mechanical failure.
However, Baldwin will no longer go to trial as his charges have been dropped. "We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident," said attorneys for Alec Baldwin. It is unclear if Gutierrez-Reed will still face trial for her charges. Filming on Rust also resumed this week, moving from New Mexico to the Yellowstone Film Ranch. The change was necessitated after the production was fined $100,000 for multiple safety violations, as deemed by the State of New Mexico. According to reports, the production will not use working weapons or live ammunition going forwards. It is unclear when Rust will premiere.