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“Safety Seemed To Be Secondary,” ‘Rust’ Grip Tells Court Of Film At Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s Involuntary Manslaughter Trial; Details Fatal Shooting On Set

“We seemed to always be rushed and under the gun,” a key crew member on the troubled Rust film told a New Mexico jury today in the involuntary manslaughter trial of armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

Describing the Alec Baldwin-starring indie western as “budgetarily restricted” and in a constant “state of chaos,” dolly grip Ross Addiego testified that the film was “moving at ludicrous speeds, racing the production clock” in its initial two weeks of production in Santa Fe. Amid tears, Addiego also gave detailed and emotional remarks about what happened on the set when Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot in October 2021.

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One of the few members of Rust’s camera department who opted to stay on the movie after disputes about money and safety, Addiego bluntly told Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, the jury and others in the courtroom that “safety seemed to be secondary” on the set. He was in the room when the 1880s prop gun that star-producer Baldwin was holding fired and killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.

Taking the jury and others deep inside the fatal shooting and aided by glitchy video from that day, he gave a detailed minute-by-minute rundown of the rehearsal scene in the church set on the Bonanza Creek Ranch. Earlier during Addiego’s testimony, Gutierrez-Reed could be seen leaning over at the defense table and whispering to her main lawyer Bowles.

With his voice cracking, Addiego spoke of his shock when the gun went off and a bullet struck Hutchins and Souza. “It went off and instantly … you know a firearm went off in a small wooden church, so the concussion, ears ringing, that moment of panic in everybody,” he said in an understated tone. “I think the first person I made eye contact with was Halyna, who was clearly injured by whatever that gunshot was, that noise we had just heard. And in fact, she was starting to go flush … holding her right side.”

Earlier, under questioning by special prosecutor Kerri Morrissey, industry vet Addiego made a blunt but polite point of stating that Gutierrez-Reed “wasn’t necessarily as serious or professional as I’m accustomed to with the other armors that I’ve worked with.”

“It seemed inappropriate, out of the ordinary that those firearms weren’t secured,” Addiego added as an example of the relatively inexperienced Gutierrez-Reed’s alleged disorganization on set. “I don’t know that they’re completely under the armorer’s control if they’re not under lock and key.” He noted that firearms often were left on carts as the defendant juggled her double duty as armorer and assistant prop master on the low-budget film.

Described in opening statements by special prosecutors as “unprofessional and sloppy” and by and her own lead lawyer as a “scapegoat,” Gutierrez-Reed, 27, is facing up to three years behind bars if found guilty in the killing of Hutchins on involuntary manslaughter and evidence-tampering charges.

First charged back in January 2023, Gutierrez-Reed has pleaded not guilty in the case. Her attorney Bowles said no to a deal offered by special prosecutors Jason Lewis and Morrissey late last year that would have averted the criminal negligence trial. That agreement was based on Gutierrez-Reed, the daughter of famed Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, providing more information on how live rounds got on the set.

After the defense said they had no idea how the live rounds got on the Rust set and denied allegations of hard drug use and heavy drinking that were made public by prosecutors against Gutierrez-Reed.

Looking at 18 months in state prison if found guilty, Baldwin himself will go to trial on involuntary-manslaughter charges starting on July 9.

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Alec Baldwin on ‘Rust’ set

Frequently stopping to explain industry lingo or the process of feature filmmaking to the jury and stopping due to objections from the defense, Addiego was by far the most potent witness the prosecution has had four days into the trial.

Delivering an up-close and professional perspective on what was happening on Rust’s harried set, the dolly grip described being “within feet” of a “negligent discharge” literally at the feet of prop master Sarah Zachery just before a scene was scheduled to be filmed. Before offering testimony on another “unannounced” discharge on Rust, the relatively low-key Addiego swore under oath that he’s “never seen” a prop master unloading weaponry on a film or TV show.

In 2023, Addiego joined two other Rust crew members, Doran Curtin and Reese Price, and took Baldwin, other Rust producers and the production itself to court in a lawsuit of their own for “negligent and reckless conduct.” The case is still pending. Baldwin and Rust producers failed to get the trio’s case dismissed back in August.

Addiego Curtin and Price’s legal action is one of many civil cases Baldwin and other Rust producers are facing in courts in New Mexico and California.

Entering a not guilty plea last month in the renewed charges against him, Baldwin has insisted from that bleak day in 2021 that he did not pull the trigger on the gun that killed Hutchins and wounded Souza. Forensic examiners at the FBI and otherwise have issued reports that insist the Colt could only have fired if Baldwin pulled the trigger.

Addiego is still giving testimony to the prosecution, with the defense expected to question him before the end of the day. Gutierrez-Reed’s trial is scheduled to go to the jury on March 8 if everything stays on track.

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