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New analysis of 'Rust' gun finds Alec Baldwin must have pulled trigger

Since the fatal shooting of the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, in October 2021, Baldwin has said that he had pulled the hammer back and let it go just before the gun discharged, maintaining that he did not pull the trigger.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 19:18 IST

A forensics expert hired to examine the gun that discharged while Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with it on the set of the film Rust in New Mexico, killing the movie’s cinematographer, has issued a new report that determined the actor must have pulled the trigger, a conclusion at odds with his account.

Since the fatal shooting of the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, in October 2021, Baldwin has said that he had pulled the hammer back and let it go just before the gun discharged, maintaining that he did not pull the trigger. The revolver was supposed to be loaded with dummy rounds, inert cartridges used to make it appear loaded on camera, but it turned out to be loaded with a round of live ammunition.

Prosecutors have been skeptical of his claim that he did not pull the trigger, and in January Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the case. A new set of prosecutors dismissed the charges against him in April, saying new evidence suggested that the gun Baldwin had been rehearsing with that day might have been modified, potentially making an unintentional discharge easier.

The prosecutors said at the time that they would consider refiling charges against the actor after a new examination of the gun.

The report from the forensics expert, Lucien Haag, did not directly address whether the gun had been modified. But it concluded that the old-fashioned Pietta revolver would have needed about 2 pounds of pressure on the trigger to discharge a round.

“Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver,” Haag wrote in the report, which was released through a public records request.

The finding aligns with an earlier examination by the FBI.

Kari Morrissey, one of the prosecutors now handling the case, said Wednesday that a final decision had not been made on whether to revive the charges against Baldwin and that “minimal additional testing of the gun may be warranted.”

A lawyer for Baldwin, Luke Nikas, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 19:18 IST)

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