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Assistant Director On ‘Rust’ Set Was ‘Not Responsible’ For Checking Firearm That Killed Halyna Hutchins, Lawyer Says

“What I can tell you is that expecting an assistant director to check a firearm is like telling an assistant director to check the camera angle or telling the assistant director to check sound or lighting. That’s not the assistant director’s job,” attorney Lisa Torraco said while defending client David Halls.

By Jill Sederstrom
Rust Movie Set Ap

An attorney for the assistant director on the set of “Rust” has claimed her client was “not responsible” for checking the firearm that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

“What I can tell you is that expecting an assistant director to check a firearm is like telling an assistant director to check the camera angle or telling the assistant director to check sound or lighting, that’s not the assistant director’s job,” attorney Lisa Torraco said in an interview with Martha MacCullum for “The Story” on Fox News.

Torraco also denied law enforcement reports that before the fatal shooting, David Halls had picked the firearm up from a cart set up by the film’s armorer and handed it to Baldwin, announcing that it was a “cold gun” or weapon that did not have live ammunition.

“In the affidavits it states that my client grabbed the gun off of a prop cart and handed it to Baldwin. That absolutely did not happen,” she said.

Yet, Torraco quickly backtracked and never confirmed or denied whether Halls had been the one to hand off of the weapon to Baldwin, saying that witnesses on the scene had provided conflicting reports about what happened on the set.

“I can’t tell you verbatim what happened,” she said. “These people are overwhelmed by the grief and the shock. My client went through something that was such a freak accident that he’s in shock, I mean, he’s having a hard time sorting out what happened.”

However, when asked by MacCullum whether Torraco was saying that Halls couldn’t remember if he passed the weapon to Baldwin, she answered “No, I am not saying that.”  

“What I am saying is I want to put all the facts together. I want to put the evidence together,” she said.

According to Torraco, some witnesses at the scene reported that armorer Hannah Gutierrez handed the weapon directly to Baldwin, while others have said Halls checked it after the armorer brought it into the set and then Halls gave it to Baldwin “like a passthrough.”

“Whether or not he handed the firearm directly to Alec Baldwin at that moment or whether the armor handed it directly to Alec Baldwin at that moment, doesn’t really matter because (Halls) didn’t load it,” she said. “He’s not responsible for checking it.”

Director Joel Souza—who was also struck by the bullet in the shoulder—told investigators with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office that the firearms were supposed to be checked by Gutierrez and Halls before they are passed to an actor, according to a search warrant obtained by Oxygen.com.

Halls also allegedly told investigators that checking the weapon was part of his responsibilities on set.

“I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there’s no live fire, (Gutierrez) opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set,” he said, according to the warrant.

Halls allegedly told investigators he had checked the firearm in question the day of the shooting after a lunch break and said “he could only remember seeing three rounds” in the gun.

“He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if he spun the gun,” authorities said in the warrant.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza has said previously that Hutchins was shot with a “suspected live round” on the set of the movie Oct. 21 after Baldwin pulled the gun out during a rehearsal for the western and pointed it at the camera.

The bullet tore through Hutchins' chest and then embedded into Souza’s shoulder, where it was later retrieved by medical personnel, authorities said.

No charges have been filed to date in the case. Investigators have said it could take time to sort through the ballistics and evidence found at the scene of the fatal shooting to determine who, if anyone, might be criminally liable for the shooting.

We are working thoroughly to gather all the facts of the investigation, will continue interviews, and further analyze and process the evidence,” Mendoza said at a press conference last week. “I want to assure the victims, their families and the public that we conducting a thorough and objective investigation.”

In a statement to the New York Post, Halls addressed the fatal shooting himself, calling Hutchins “a friend,” but did not provide any details about whether or not he had handled the firearm.

“I’m shocked and saddened by her death,” he said. “It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again.”

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