6 Mistakes Alec Baldwin Made In Accidental "Rust" Shooting, According to Experts
Actors, investigators, public relations experts, attorneys, and former police officers speak up.
This week it was announced that Alec Baldwin will be facing involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from the accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust. The Santa Fe-area's District Attorney's office are charging Baldwin and the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who loaded the gun that shot and killed the mother-of-one. Ever since that fateful day on October 21, 2021, the actor has been advocating his innocence – but was that the right tactic?
According to experts, ranging from fellow experienced actors and publicists to former police officers and lawyers, Baldwin has made a number of mistakes, starting with that fateful day in New Mexico. Here are six mistakes Alec Baldwin made the day of and after the accidental Rust shooting, per experts.
According to fellow actor George Clooney, Baldwin should have checked the gun for ammunition. "Every single time I'm handed a gun on the set, every time they hand me a gun, I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I'm pointing it to, I show it to the crew," Clooney said on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, per Vanity Fair. "Every single take."
However, Baldwin disagrees. During an interview with ABC News, he disputed it. "If your protocol is you checking the gun every time, well, good for you. Good for you," he said. "My protocol was to trust the person that had the job, and it worked up until this point." He added that he didn't have guilt over it. "No. No. I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don't say that lightly."
"The rules are there," Bill Davis, a former police officer, and armorer with two decades of experience told HuffPost. "You follow them, you won't have a problem. If you don't follow them, you will. The safety protocols are only as good as the people observing them." Even if the gun wasn't loaded, Davis maintains that Baldwin didn't handle it responsibly. "The cardinal rule that he broke is he pointed a the gun at a human," he said. "He's handled guns in a lot of movies. He should know better."
Likely on the recommendation of his publicist, Baldwin sat down for an interview with George Stephanopoulous In December 2021. "The interview was a mistake," former U.S. Assistant Attorney Neama Rahmani told Fox News. "I'm sure [his lawyer] did not want Baldwin to do the interview. But Baldwin or his PR team ignored his advice," he added.
During the interview, the star actor detailed his version of the story, maintaining that he didn't pull the trigger. "One of the biggest mistakes Alec Baldwin made was to go on George Stephanopoulos' program and say he didn't pull the trigger," Fox News contributor and attorney Leo Terrell added to The Faulkner Focus on Thursday. "That was a lie. I guarantee you that's going to come back to haunt him," Rahmani said.
Aside from going on the show, what he said while on it resulted in the actor discrediting himself, which brand expert Eric Schiffern describes as a"terrible" media strategy. "He hurt himself early on in unimaginable ways with the public who thought, 'Why would any adult think it would be OK to aim a gun at anyone, let alone have it go off?'" Schiffer told Fox.
"And the other challenge for Baldwin is this claim that he never pulled the trigger, which is seen by the public as a big lie. Not only was it horrifyingly dumb, but it defies gun physics." Later on, the FBI said that the gun used, a .45 Colt caliber F.LLI Pietta, "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger," according to a report obtained by ABC News. Shiffer said that the denial made Americans feel like they were "suckers."
Rachel Fiset, co-founder and managing partner at Zweiback, Fiset & Zalduendo, maintains that everything Baldwin has said about the case in public can be used against him in trial. "Generally speaking, when a possible defendant is under investigation, public statements about that investigation only serve to raise potential bias against the defendant," she told Fox.
"It is difficult for people in the public eye not to respond publicly to any allegations against them, and Baldwin did what so many people do, which was attempt to exonerate himself in the public's opinion while the investigation was still pending, which is a natural reaction for a celebrity. However, the message seemed a bit uncontrolled by his legal team and statements he made, which could now turn out to be untrue as a result of the investigation, may be used against him later to reduce his credibility," Fiset said.
Directly after the shooting, Baldwin met with investigators, seemingly without a lawyer present "Baldwin's interrogation with police officers was also a mistake," Rahmani told Fox. "Any competent lawyer will advise you to keep your mouth shut and not talk to the cops." In the interview, Baldwin detailed his version of what happened. "When I shot the gun, away from the cameraman, I never aim the gun at the camera, I turned, and I went like this," he said. "And she was there. And the gun went off. And she just went right on the ground."
During the interview, he also insisted that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, also charged with involuntary manslaughter, handed him the gun. This contradicts police statements that the gun was given to Baldwin by assistant director Dave Halls. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department has spent the last year investigating how live rounds made it onto the movie set. According to reports, Gutierrez-Reed and Halls were the only other crew members believed to have handled the gun that fired on set.
Halls allegedly handed Baldwin a .45 revolver, telling him that it was "cold," or safe. Prior to that, Gutierrez-Reed spun the cylinder to show Halls what was in the gun, her lawyer said. Along with Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed will also be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Halls signed a plea agreement and will receive a suspended sentence and six months of probation.