Dave Halls, assistant director of ‘Rust’, reports shots that conflict with statements by others (EXCLUSIVE)

Dave Halls, the first assistant director on “Rust,” became the first person responsible for the death of Halyna Hutchins when he agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

In a victory for prosecutors, Halls is also expected to testify against Alec Baldwin and gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed when they go to trial on manslaughter charges.

But in a December statement obtained by VarietyHalls denied the allegations about his role in the shooting and also said no one person was responsible for Hutchins’ death.

“I think it’s just a tragic series of mistakes that happened,” Halls said. “It’s like what they say about a plane crash. It’s like it’s not one thing, you know. It’s a system failure.”

Halls’ recollection of the events of that day differs in important ways from the narrative that has emerged from the accounts of others. Assuming you are called to testify, the defense is likely to highlight those discrepancies.

“We are aware of the apparent inconsistencies in the testimony,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe district attorney. “However, we are confident that there is more than enough evidence to prove negligence and ensure justice for Halyna Hutchins.”

Halls has not spoken to the media about the October 2021 shooting, and his account of that day has not been previously retold.

On December 13, he participated in a Zoom deposition with attorneys from the New Mexico Office of Occupational Safety and Health, which is seeking to levy a $136,793 fine for workplace safety violations.

Hutchins, the cinematographer, was killed while preparing to film a scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. Baldwin was holding a Colt .45 when he fired a single live round. Investigators have not determined how the live round reached the set.

Gutierrez Reed loaded the gun and did not notice the difference in color between the live shell and the inert dummy shells that had the same brand of Starline Brass.

Halls has come under fire for two actions just before the shooting. First, according to the widely reported narrative, Halls took the gun from Gutierrez Reed and handed it over to Baldwin. (Early ADs generally don’t touch on-set firearms.) Second, he declared it a “cold weapon,” meaning that he was not carrying an explosive charge.

But in his statement, Halls denied doing any of those things.

Halls testified that she reviewed the gun with Gutierrez Reed, as was her typical practice, and then she handed it over directly to Baldwin.

He also said he did not announce that he was a “cold gun.”

“I don’t have any recollection of me saying that,” Halls said. “I remember Hannah saying it.”

Halls’ version is at odds with Gutierrez Reed’s account, which he has given in police interviews and in his own statement to OSHA, which took place on December 7. He said he handed the gun to Halls and that Baldwin was not in the room when he left.

In an email, Gutierrez Reed’s attorney said Halls is wrong.

“Mr. Halls is absolutely wrong on this point and he handed the gun to Mr. Baldwin and yelled ‘cold gun,'” the lawyer, Jason Bowles, said. “This will be proven in court.”

Investigators also heard conflicting statements from other eyewitnesses. Zac Sneesby, the boom operator, said he saw her hand the gun to Halls. But Ross Addigo, the cart gripper, said she handed it over to Baldwin.

Baldwin has given conflicting accounts, initially telling investigators that Gutierrez Reed gave him the gun, but later saying it was Halls. In his first interview, Baldwin said he just assumed the gun was “cold.” But in the latest account, Baldwin said Halls declared him a “cold gun.”

Joel Souza, the film’s director, told police Halls announced a “cold gun” while filming earlier that day. But Souza, who was shot in the shoulder by him, said he couldn’t remember if Halls had also said it just before the shooting.

In his statement, Gutierrez Reed said that he never uses the term “cold gun.”

“I don’t like the term ‘cold gun,’” he testified. “I know there was a lot of discussion on set. That was mostly Dave’s terminology.”

Gutierrez Reed’s and Halls’ accounts differ in another significant respect. In his account, Halls was the one making the decisions about the weapon. But in her version, she was.

Gutierrez Reed testified that Halls told him to take the gun to the church building. She said that normally when the crew was lining up the camera, she would bring a plastic gun, but Halls wanted her to bring the real one. He seemed to want it badly too, forcing her to hurry up.

“He was like, okay, hurry up, get the gun here,” she testified. She said that she brought the gun, which she had already loaded with dummies, and asked Halls to check the guns. Halls responded that “we don’t have time,” she testified.

She said she rotated the cylinder to allow Halls to look at the dummies and then handed over the gun to him. She said she left the room partly because of COVID restrictions on building occupancy, and also because she had to attend to other prop and armory duties.

“Usually they don’t have me there unless we’re shooting the munitions,” he said.

Halls told a very different version. According to Halls, Gutierrez Reed took the gun into the building and showed him that it was empty, with no mannequins. He then handed it over to Baldwin.

A few minutes later, she came back and told him, “I put fake bullets in the gun.” He said that she had decided to do it of her own free will.

“Because it was such a tight shot from this revolver, I think Hannah made a creative decision that, you know, dummy rounds should be in there to make sure the gun looks like it’s loaded,” Halls testified.

He showed the gun again to Halls, who saw three or four cartridges, all of which appeared to be fakes because they had depressed primers. He couldn’t remember if she spun the cylinder or not. She then returned the gun to Baldwin, Halls said.

He said he didn’t know if she left the church after that.

Halls testified that at some point, Baldwin adjusted his holster and asked Halls to hold the gun briefly. He said he held it by the handle with two fingers, away from his body, like a “smelly diaper.”

“So that was the only time I held the gun,” he said.

Asked if he would do anything differently in hindsight, he said he would ask Gutierrez Reed to carry the dummies in front of him.

When the gun went off, Halls said he assumed it was a blank round, a round with an explosive charge but no projectile.

“It was unfathomable that there could ever be a round of live ammunition on a film set,” he testified.

In the ensuing chaos, Baldwin planted the gun in a church pew. Halls picked it up and took it outside to Gutierrez Reed, watching him unload it. They found five fake cartridges and a spent casing.

Asked how a live round could have made it to the set, Halls replied: “I have no idea.”

Halls defended the production’s general safety practices. He dismissed criticism that he did not hold enough safety meetings, saying he did it “almost every day.” And he testified that he believes that Gutierrez Reed was a competent gunsmith.

Gutierrez Reed was unemployed for a year after “Rust.” He now works on social media for a commercial real estate company in Arizona.

Halls’ attorney, Lisa Torraco, declined to comment for this story, citing the pending charges.

Halls was living in New Mexico at the time of the shooting, but has since moved to Minnesota. He worked on around 30 to 40 movies over a 30 year career, but has now retired as a prime AD.

“I no longer want to do that job,” he testified.

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