Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies revealed that her office had conducted an informal experiment to verify Alec Baldwin’s claims that he had not pulled the trigger of the old-style revolver on the ‘Rust’ film set before it fired the live round that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
In an interview with Vanity Fair last week, Carmack-Altwies – who is leading the investigation into the fatal on-set shooting in October – said she had examined the embattled actor’s claims that he had only pulled back the gun’s hammer when it went off.
During the unofficial test of the mechanical malfunction theory, Carmack-Altwies had requested one of her investigators bring his “very old type revolver” to her office. After clearing a room, two investigators confirmed the gun was not loaded before they “visually showed” her how pulling back the hammer can cause a live round of ammunition to fire, she told Vanity Fair.
You can pull the hammer back without actually pulling the trigger and without actually locking it. So you pull it back partway, it doesn’t lock, and then if you let it go, the firing pin can hit the primer of the bullet.
While the test revealed that simply pulling the hammer back without cocking it could have caused the live round to fire, an ongoing FBI analysis of the actual weapon used – a Colt 45 revolver – will ultimately determine whether the gun’s functionality or other mechanical failures might have caused it to go off.
Carmack-Altwies had been drawn to Baldwin’s claim during a December sit-down with ABC that he had not pulled the trigger. The actor also said he did not feel guilty about what happened since he did not think he was responsible for either the shooting or for the reportedly unsafe practices regarding firearms on the set. Baldwin was one of the movie’s producers.
“I didn’t know too much about guns, certainly not about 1850s-era revolvers. So when I first heard that [Baldwin’s claim], I was like, ‘Oh, that’s crazy,’” Carmack-Altwies told Vanity Fair.
Noting that “everything’s on the table” when it comes to bringing criminal charges in the incident, she added that there was “certainly” the “potential for a producer or producers to be charged if we have direct evidence that they willfully disregarded the safety of others.”
Last week, Baldwin was sued by Hutchins’ family for wrongful death. The lawsuit claimed the actor and other crew members, including set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls, as well as producers, are “responsible” for her death.