A New Mexico judge has ordered that the First Assistant Director at the heart of the fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins can’t avoid any more sitting down with the state investigators.
District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid yesterday granted the Land of Enchantment state Environment Department request for a subpoena for David Halls. After apparently ducking various attempts at an interview as a part of an ongoing Occupational Health and Safety Act probe, Halls is now expected to sit down with state officials on December 14 at 10 AM Albuquerque time.
One of many interviewed on ABC News’ primetime special on the Rust tragedy last night, Halls’ own lawyer Lisa Torraco told Deadline this afternoon that “Mr. Halls is happy to cooperate with the OSHA investigation.” At this point, Torroco says the interview is set to conducted via Zoom, but no details on dates.
Previously Halls and attorney Torraco insisted they would not talking to anyone until the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office conclude their scrutiny into what occurred on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set of the low budget Western on October 21. While expected to take at least several more weeks, that police probe has the potential to result in criminal charges – an outcome that First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has repeatedly not ruled out.
As for now, OSHA want their questions answered — by Halls and maybe others.
“It’s the bureaus understanding that Mr. Halls was inside the church when this fatality and injury, this workplace fatality and injury to the second person, occurred,” said documents first filed by New Mexico Environment Department lawyer Mia Napolitano to the court this week. “So the bureau needs to question Mr. Halls on what occurred inside the church,” the assistant general counsel goes on to say of the first A.D.
The defendant in the state filing was actually Rust Movie Productions LLC, of which Halls is considered by the Environment Department to be in a management position.
“Mr. Halls could also inform the bureau as to who else was inside the church and who else we should interview,” the filing adds. “It’s also the bureaus understanding Mr. Halls conducted safety meetings on site and had a roll in safety on set.”
Halls has admitted to the Sheriff’s Office that he did not properly check the weapon in question before giving it to Baldwin and declaring “cold gun” on set. As Deadline reported on October 25, Halls was fired from a previous film because of gun safety lapses and was not rehired over personal misconduct complaints on a 2019 Blumhouse TV project.
Nearing two months since Hutchins died and director Joel Souza was injured, it is worth noting that no one has been arrested or charged over the Rust shooting
As the Sheriff’s Office probe continues with four search warrants issued so far, two lawsuits have already been filed over Rust with Baldwin, Halls, along with the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, prop master Sarah Zachery, plus producers and others named as defendants. Most of them have hired defense lawyers and the family of Hutchins has also hired an attorney, one who specializes in wrongful death suits.
The production of the now shuttered film itself hired law firm Jenner Block to conduct an internal investigation of their own into the events of October 21. Part of that on-going investigation is to have associates of the high-profile firm sit in on OSHA interviews with Rust cast, crew and producers.
In all such sit-downs in all the investigations there is a lot to be discussed, especially where the live rounds that should have never been on the set came from.
The search warrants executed by the police at the Bonanza Creek Ranch have found a number of weapons and, according to Sheriff Adan Mendoza in a late October press conference, “500 rounds of ammunition … a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting are live rounds.”
Filling the information gap with potential doubt for future juries, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers have been floating a “sabotage” theory based on the mass resignation of the Rust camera crew just hours before the shooting. Baldwin told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on December 2 that while he cocked the hammer of the gun that killed Hutchins, he never pulled the trigger.
Halls, via attorney Torraco, has backed star/producer’s Baldwin’s stance – something that surely will be of great interest to the OSHA team.
Baldwin has also said and posted on social media that before the shooting the Rust set was a safe one. An assertion contradicted by at least two documented incidents of unintended weapons discharges on the film before Hutchins’ death.