Santa Fe County, NM – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded that the gun Alec Baldwin was holding when he fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” last year could not have been fired without the trigger being pulled.
“The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger,” Baldwin said during the sit down. “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never.”
The actor said he has “no idea” how the fatal incident occurred.
“Someone put a live bullet in a gun. A bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” he said at the time.
But according to a recently-released FBI forensic report, the .45 Colt caliber F.lli Pietta single-action revolver Baldwin was holding at the time of the fatal shooting could not have fired without someone pulling the trigger, ABC News reported.
The FBI tested the weapon with the hammer in the quarter- and half-cock positions, but could not cause the gun to fire “without a pull of the trigger,” according to the forensic report.
The FBI noted the weapon “could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional” with the hammer in the fully-cocked position, ABC News reported.
When the hammer was de-cocked on a loaded chamber, the gun effectively detonated a primer “without a pull of the trigger when the hammer was struck directly,” as one would expect with similar revolvers, according to the report.
Luke Nikas, one of the attorneys representing Baldwin, said that the FBI report “is being misconstrued” by critics, CNN reported.
“The gun fired in testing only one time – without having to pull the trigger – when the hammer was pulled back and the gun broke in two different places,” Nikas told CNN in a statement. “The FBI was unable to fire the gun in any prior test, even when pulling the trigger, because it was in such poor condition.”
The attorney further argued that the most important report was the one previously released by the medical examiner.
“The critical report is the one from the medical examiner, who concluded that this was a tragic accident,” Nikas told CNN. “This is the third time the New Mexico authorities have found that Alec Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on the set, that he was told by the person in charge of safety on the set that the gun was ‘cold,’ and believed the gun was safe.”
The medical examiner’s report noted there was “no compelling demonstration that the firearm was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on set.”
“Based on all available information, including the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death, the manner of death is best classified as accident,” the report summary read, according to CNN.
The FBI said the forensic report has been turned over to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office (SFCSO), which is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said in April that no one “is off the hook” when it comes to potential criminal charges in the case.
“It’s hard to determine right now, the route that the case is going to go,” Sheriff Mendoza told the TODAY show at the time. “I’ve said this before, I think there was complacency on the set. There was disorganization and a degree of negligence. Whether that rises to a criminal level, that will be up to the district attorney.”
The sheriff refused to predict whether or not Baldwin will be held responsible for killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
“I don’t think anybody is off the hook when it comes to criminal charges,” he told TODAY.
The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau hit Rust Movie Productions LLC with a maximum fine of $136,793 on April 20 for its “willful and serious” violations of safety procedures in the workplace during filming of the movie, Deadline reported.
Jason Bowles, the attorney representing the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, released a statement shortly after the fine was levied.
“After OSHA’s very comprehensive safety investigation involving numerous interviews and review of documents, it has concluded that production willfully failed to follow national gun safety standards, which caused this tragedy,” Bowles declared.
“OSHA found that Hannah Gutierrez Reed was not provided adequate time or resources to conduct her job effectively, despite her voiced concerns,” he added.
Although Nikas has assured everyone that his client “was ‘very careful’ with guns on the set,” videos recorded on the set before the shooting showed Baldwin’s finger on the trigger and his thumb quickly dropping off of the hammer of the revolver.
Baldwin has declared he is not “culpable” for having fatally shot Hutchins, and argued in court documents that he is shielded from financial responsibility for her death under the terms of his contract.
Baldwin also attempted to arrange a settlement with Hutchins’ husband after her death so filmmakers could complete the production of the movie, Variety reported.
According to arbitration paperwork filed by Nikas on March 11, the idea the gun Baldwin had fired contained a live bullet was “unthinkable” to the actor because someone else he said was responsible for verifying its safety had assured him it was “cold.”
The filing noted that “others” on set “quickly dismissed” the possibility the firearm could have contained a live round – calling such a notion “farfetched” – since two staff members were responsible for ensuring they did not contain live bullets, Business Insider reported.
“He was shocked,” the arbitration demand read, according to Business Insider. “In his mind, it was outside the realm of all possibility that a live bullet could have been present on the ranch property or on the prop truck, let alone in the gun itself.”
Nikas further declared the actor should not be responsible for the legal costs of defending himself in the fatal shooting case and alleged such obligations should fall to the “Rust” production company, Business Insider reported.
He argued in the 37-page document that Baldwin is shielded from financial culpability for the fatal shooting under the terms of his contract.
The contract specifically includes a clause protecting Baldwin and his production company “from and against any loss, damage, liability, claim, demand, action, cost and expense” in connection with the filming of “Rust,” Business Insider reported.
“At this point, two things are clear: someone is culpable for chambering the live round that led to this horrific tragedy, and it is someone other than Baldwin,” Nikas wrote, according to Business Insider.
Panish, the attorney representing Hutchins’ family, said the arbitration demand shows “Alec Baldwin once again is trying to avoid liability and accountability for his reckless actions before and on October 21 that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins,” Business Insider reported.
“It is shameful that Baldwin claims Hutchins’ actions in filing a wrongful death lawsuit derailed the completion of ‘Rust,’” Panish added. “The only action that ended the film’s production was Baldwin’s killing of Halyna Hutchins.”
Baldwin, co-producer and star of the film, said his connection to the death of Hutchins, 42, and the wounding of Souza is the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.
“I think back and I think of what could I have done?” he said. “She was someone who was loved by everyone who worked with and liked by everyone who worked with and admired…I mean, even now, I find it hard to believe… It doesn’t seem real to me.”