Charges against Alec Baldwin could be refiled because an independent forensic report on the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the production of Rust showed that the trigger had to have been pulled to fire the gun.
Per CNN, a report compiled by the Forensic Science Services in Arizona states that "the fired evidence cartridge is the consequence of a normal hammer fall from the fully cocked position of the hammer." Baldwin previously claimed that the prop gun, which he was holding as Hutchins was struck by a live round, malfunctioned.
"Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver," reads the report. "If the hammer had not been fully retracted to the rear and were to slip from the handler’s thumb without the trigger depressed, the half cock or quarter cock notches in the hammer should have prevented the firing pin from reaching any cartridge in the firing chamber."
The report was filed on behalf of the Rust armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was responsible for the handling of all firearms on the set of the production, which Baldwin is both starring in and serves as a producer for. Gutierrez Reed is facing a charge of tampering with the prop gun as well as two counts of involuntary manslaughter. It has not been determined how or why live rounds were on the set of the movie.
The involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin were dismissed earlier this year, although prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said the actor could be recharged in connection with the case.
"The charges against Alec Baldwin were dismissed without prejudice because a possible malfunction of the gun significantly affects causation with regard to Baldwin, not with regard to Gutierre," said the prosecutors in a June court filing. "If it is determined that the gun did not malfunction, charges against Mr. Baldwin will proceed. The prosecution anticipates making a final charging decision with regard to Mr. Baldwin within the next sixty days."
When Forensic Science Services first received the prop firearm, it was inoperable because the FBI ran tests that broke it. "From an examination of the fired cartridge case and the operationally restored evidence revolver, this fatal incident was the consequence of the hammer being manually retracted to its fully rearward and cocked position followed, at some point, by the pull or rearward depression of the trigger," the report reads. "The only conceivable alternative to the foregoing would be a situation in which the trigger was already pulled or held rearward while retracting the hammer to its full cock position. Although unlikely and totally contrary to the normal operation of these single action revolvers, such improper handling, would result in the discharge of a live cartridge."