Lawyer on ‘Rust’ shooting: ‘Somebody is going to get charged’

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(NewsNation Now) — No charges have been filed in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, but a high-profile attorney believes it’s a matter of time.

“Somebody is going to get charged with a criminal offense in this case,” Mark Geragos said on the “NewsNation Prime” special report Thursday. “I just don’t see it happening any other way.”

Hutchins was killed Oct. 21 when Alec Baldwin fired what he believed was an unloaded gun while preparing for a shoot on the movie “Rust” in New Mexico. Baldwin has called it a “tragic accident” and a “one in a trillion” event.

Geragos, who’s represented Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson and Collin Kaepernick among other well-known clients, believes an involuntary manslaughter charge could come when the investigation ends.

That charge would imply, “They acted with negligence so extreme that we’re going to punish them, but it didn’t rise to the level of intentional,” Geragos said. But figuring out who “they” are will be complicated.

Baldwin was not only an actor, he was a producer, meaning he bears some responsibility for the set’s safety. Dave Halls, an assistant director, handed Baldwin the gun. Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer responsible for the gun, loaded the gun earlier in the day. She grabbed bullets from a collection marked “dummy,” but evidently the collection contained at least one live round.

Attorneys for Gutierrez Reed floated a theory that it could have been sabotage, but Geragos and firearms expert Steve Wolf don’t buy that defense.

“There were many opportunities along the way for someone to have caught this mistake,” Wolf said on NewsNation’s “The Donlon Report” on Thursday. “And everyone who handles a gun, it’s their responsibility to know its condition. And … this business of passing the buck is no way to make a safer set.”

Geragos said the theory could do as much to incriminate Gutierrez Reed as exonerate her, since they are admitting she loaded the gun. Blanks are loaded with BB’s that rattle around and make noise so they’re easy to distinguish from live rounds, Wolf said.

Baldwin has spoken sparingly since the accident. He first made a written statement, then spoke with a Backgrid crew in Vermont the weekend of Oct. 23, when he said the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office asked him not to speak publicly about the shooting.

On Tuesday, he posted screenshots of crew member Terese Magpale Davis blasting news coverage of the set conditions as overblown.

Geragos believes Baldwin’s attorney will try to rein in his public statements.

“If he were my client, I would have gently chastised them and told him, ‘That’s it. You’re not talking anymore,'” Geragos said on “NewsNation Prime.”

The accident is spurring change on some sets. Producers for the series “The Rookie” have banned real guns from their sets, and Dwayne Johnson told Variety his production company will stop using them, too.

“Moving forward on any Seven Bucks production, and television or film or otherwise, we will not use real guns ever again. We are going to be using rubber guns and we’ll take care of it in post, and we won’t worry about the dollars. We won’t worry about math or what the cost is. I think we’re going do it the right way.”

dwayne johnson speaking with variety

But veteran armorers are skeptical such a step is necessary.

“Real firearms have been used on set, you know, in hundreds of thousands of productions without anyone getting injured — except when people don’t follow the safety rules,” Wolf said. “The rules are actually adequate.”

Bryan Carpenter, another armorer, said on NewsNation’s special report the rule of thumb for making sure guns are not loaded is simple: “If you checked, check again.”

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