Police officer who responded to fatal shooting testifies in Alec Baldwin's manslaughter trial

The actor faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal 2021 shooting on the movie set of "Rust."
Baldwin Set Shooting
Posted at 9:14 AM, Jul 10, 2024

Witness testimony has begun in actor Alec Baldwin's manslaughter trial in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The case stems from the 2021 shooting on the movie set of "Rust," in which Baldwin is accused of firing a live round that fatally struck the film’s director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director/writer Joel Souza.

Prosecutors called their first witness to the stand on Wednesday. Santa Fe police officer Nicholas LaFleur testified about responding to the scene of the shooting. The courtroom was also shown bodycam footage from the scene that showed medical personnel rendering aid to Hutchins and Souza.

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During opening statements earlier in the morning, prosecutors claimed Baldwin disregarded established protocols, including inadequate firearm training, and allowed unsafe conditions on set, ultimately leading to the tragic outcome.

"The evidence will show that someone who played make believe with a real gun and violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety is the defendant, Alexander Baldwin," prosecutor Erlinda Johnson said.

She added that Baldwin was negligent by handling the firearm "in a reckless manner," contradicting his claim that the gun discharged without him pulling the trigger.

"You will also see evidence, ladies and gentlemen, that during the days before that fateful October 21st day, the defendant [Baldwin] handled this firearm on multiple occasions. You will see video footage of the defendant firing this firearm, working perfectly fine," Johnson said. "But you'll see evidence, ladies and gentlemen, that each time the defendant handled this firearm, he did not do a safety check."

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Baldwin’s defense asserted he "committed no crime" and that safety on set rested with professionals like armorer Hannah Gutierrez and assistant director David Halls, who had been entrusted with ensuring the firearms were safe and properly managed. Defense attorney Alex Spiro argued that neither Baldwin nor others present were aware that live ammunition had been loaded into the gun, believing it to be safe for use.

"On a movie set you're allowed to pull the trigger. So even if he [Baldwin] intentionally pulled the trigger, like the prosecutor just demonstrated, that doesn't make him guilty of homicide," Spiro said. "He did not know or have any reason to know that gun was loaded with a live bullet. That's the key. That live bullet is the key. That is the lethal element."

The trial could have significant consequences for Baldwin, who faces the possibility of up to 18 months in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.