Footage of 'Rust' armorer Hannah Gutierrez's interviews with sheriff's office shown to jurors

Gutierrez has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

February 27, 2024, 8:54 PM

Jurors in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Hannah Gutierrez saw footage of the "Rust" armorer being interviewed by law enforcement hours after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the set of the Western.

"I wish I would have checked it more," Gutierrez said of the Colt .45 revolver while being questioned at the Santa Fe Sheriff's Office in New Mexico on Oct. 21, 2021, in footage shown to jurors Tuesday on the fourth day of her trial.

Actor Alec Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw in a church on the set when the gun fired a live round, striking Hutchins and director Joel Souza, who suffered a non-life-threatening injury.

Gutierrez told investigators she was "flabbergasted" by the shooting and that she had checked all six rounds in the prop gun, which was a fully functioning firearm.

"I do check the dummies," she said. "I check all of them. They all showed that they were not hot, I guess you could say."

Gutierrez told investigators that she had spent the morning loading prop guns with dummies. After lunch, she was outside the church due to COVID-19 restrictions when she said she heard one shot go off inside.

She said she went inside and was "yelled" at, so ran out. She said she checked the gun, and one round was missing, but the "rest were fine."

"One of the dummies had somehow been discharged," she told investigators in the footage.

PHOTO: In a video showing during her trial on Feb. 27. 2024, Hannah Gutierrez (in the blue mask) is seen being interviewed at the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 21, 2021.
In a video showing during her trial on Feb. 27. 2024, Hannah Gutierrez (in the blue mask) is seen being interviewed at the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 21, 2021.
KOAT

One of the investigators showed Gutierrez a photo a deputy had texted her from the hospital of the projectile removed from Souza's shoulder.

"They were thinking it could be an actual live round at this point," the investigator told Gutierrez.

"Does that look like it would have been a live round to you?" she asked the armorer.

"That looks like a blank one," Gutierrez initially responded, before later saying, "That might be a regular live round, though."

"That's what they were thinking -- it could be a live round," the investigator said.

"Holy f---," Gutierrez responded.

Gutierrez contended that she had checked the six rounds in the firearm to see if they rattled -- indicating they were dummy rounds.

"If it didn't rattle, I wouldn't have put it in," she said. "I checked all six of them for a rattle."

Santa Fe Sheriff's Office Cpl. Alexandra Hancock, the lead detective in the case, testified on the stand Tuesday that one of the dummy rounds in the firearm had a hole on the side to indicate it was a dummy.

"It would not have rattled, which is contrary to her statement of, if it wouldn't have had rattled, I wouldn't put it in," Hancock said.

Hours before the shooting, several members of the camera department walked off the set in protest of poor working conditions. When the investigator interviewing her mentioned the shooting happened after that, Gutierrez said she didn't want to think anyone on the set was "that malicious."

"I totally feel like this is just a really f---ed-up accident," she said, the footage showed.

Asked where the ammunition for the set came from, Gutierrez told the investigator they got boxes of dummies from Seth Kenney, owner of PDQ Arm and Prop in Albuquerque.

During a second interview with the sheriff's office in November 2021, Gutierrez "disclosed" that she and another supplier also provided ammunition for the set, Hancock testified.

During the November interview, part of which was shown to jurors on Tuesday before breaking for the day, Gutierrez said she brought in "loose dummies" she had from a prior film set that had been in her car for two weeks.

Ammunition from PDQ did not match any of the live ammunition found on the "Rust" set, Hancock testified.

PHOTO: Hannah Gutierrez appears in court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Feb. 27, 2024.
Hannah Gutierrez appears in court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Feb. 27, 2024.
KOAT

Gutierrez, 26, was charged with involuntary manslaughter last year following a lengthy investigation. She was subsequently charged with tampering with evidence. Prosecutors allege she handed off a small bag of cocaine after her interview with law enforcement following the shooting. The defense has argued there is no proof that cocaine was in the bag and that she was charged with the offense "in an effort to cause unfair prejudice" to the defendant during the trial.

She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Prosecutors have claimed that the armorer did not always adhere to "essential" safety procedures on set and unwittingly brought the live bullets onto the set.

Defense attorney Jason Bowles said during opening statements last week that the production and state have made Gutierrez a "scapegoat" in the tragic shooting.

"Just because there was a tragedy does not mean that a crime was committed," he said.

He claimed that the production created a "chaotic scene" by giving Gutierrez props duties that took away from her job as lead armorer. He said she wasn't given sufficient time to train the crew on the firearms, including Baldwin, whom he argued was inappropriately handling the gun by pointing it at the crew, and has denied that she brought the live bullets on set.

Baldwin has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins' death. He has pleaded not guilty.

Earlier Tuesday, firearms expert Lucien Haag testified for the state that for the revolver to fire, the hammer would have needed to be fully cocked and the trigger pulled -- matching testimony from FBI firearms expert Bryce Ziegler on Monday.

Baldwin has said he did not pull the trigger on the gun.

His trial has been scheduled to start in July.

"We look forward to our day in court," Baldwin's attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel, said following his indictment in January.

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