If this is the defense Hannah Gutierrez Reed plans to use in court, maybe she should look for a plea deal. Her attorney Jason Bowles previewed the argument with ABC’s Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, but it raises all sorts of questions.
The first of which is why a professional armorer didn’t recognize live rounds in the box in the first place:
Jason Bowles, attorney for “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, says Hannah had been pulling rounds from a box labeled dummy rounds and "somebody put that live round or live rounds in that box. When you do that you can only have bad intentions." https://t.co/ojv26xKCNr pic.twitter.com/h0xymPvQuU
— Good Morning America (@GMA) November 3, 2021
To break this down, Gutierrez Reed claims that the production cut her out of the loop on the fateful firearm handover done by assistant director Dave Halls. She wasn’t involved in that transfer because no one informed her of the rehearsal, Bowles claims, so she didn’t get a chance to inspect the pistol again. If that’s the case, then Alec Baldwin and Halls would have been willfully negligent in bypassing the clear safety protocol, perhaps even criminally negligent.
But who loaded the pistol in the first place? It seems incredible that either Baldwin or Halls did that on their own without Gutierrez Reed. Bowles never addresses that point, but does float a claim that someone may have deliberately mixed live ammo into Gutierrez Reed’s ammo boxes for “bad intentions.” Presumably that’s a reference to the labor disputes and the union’s dismissal from the set, a suggestion that someone sabotaged the process in order to injure or kill someone and pin it on the producers. That’s certainly possible, and investigators will have to address it as such.
Even then, though, that still leaves the questions of who actually loaded the pistol and why Gutierrez Reed didn’t recognize live ammo in the boxes. As Bowles notes, both blanks and dummies have specific characteristics which distinguish them from live ammunition. Amateurs and plinkers might not recognize the differences, but professional armorers are trained to distinguish each. If live rounds didn’t belong in that box, and they clearly didn’t, then why didn’t Gutierrez Reed recognize and remove them? If she loaded the weapon, why didn’t she realize she was handling live ammunition? If Gutierrez Reed didn’t load the weapon, why did she as the official armorer leave it unsecured for someone else to load?
To put it succinctly — weren’t those tasks basic to the function of an armorer on a film set? You can bet that a jury will ask the same questions when dealing with this defense, and perhaps especially in a negligent-homicide prosecution.