‘Rust’ Assistant Director Subpoenaed After Declining Investigators’ Interview Requests

Dave Halls, an assistant film director who handed Alec Baldwin a prop gun that killed a cinematographer on the film set Rust in October, has been issued a subpoena by New Mexico safety officials after he declined to be interviewed for the ongoing investigation.

On Friday, New Mexico District Judge Bryan Biedscheid granted a request by the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OSHA) of the state Environment Department to subpoena Halls, according to the Associated Press.

The request came after safety officials said they tried to speak with Halls on two separate occasions after the shooting took place, but he declined to be interviewed until a criminal investigation into the incident is complete.

However, safety officials have argued that they need to interview Halls because, as assistant director, “his primary job duties were to coordinate and manage the logistics on set and to oversee the health and safety on set,” according to the subpoena.

The deadly incident took place on October 21, when a prop gun held by Baldwin on set fired a live round, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. The weapon was given to Baldwin by Halls, who told the actor that the prop was a “cold gun,” meaning that it did not contain live bullets. Initial investigations have determined that neither Halls nor Baldwin were aware that the gun was actually loaded at the time.

Rust Ranch Dave Halls Subpoena
‘Rust’ Assistant Director Dave Halls was issued a subpoena by New Mexico safety officials amid the ongoing investigation into the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Here, Signage indicating the location of the film set is seen on October 28 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images

The tragedy has since become the subject of a lengthy investigation by officials who are seeking to determine how the live ammunition was put into the weapon.

Following the incident, a pyrotechnician and prop maker who previously worked with Halls told Newsweek that the assistant director had a history of unsafe working conditions.

Rebecca Roose, deputy cabinet secretary of the Environment Department, said the department is now aiming to interview Halls for the investigation on Tuesday, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Halls’ attorney, Lisa Torracco, told Newsweek on Saturday that “Mr. Halls is happy to cooperate with the OSHA investigation.” The Environment Department has already interviewed nine of the 150 employees working on the Rust set as part of its investigation, according to the New Mexican.

Immediately after the incident, Baldwin said there were “no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours.” In a lengthy interview with ABC last week, the actor gave an emotional interview in which he explained the events that lead to the deadly incident, and denied pulling the trigger of the gun. Instead, Baldwin said the revolver fired as he cocked the gun while practicing a scene.

“I feel someone is responsible for what happened, but I know it isn’t me. I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don’t say that lightly,” Baldwin told ABC television’s George Stephanopoulos.

“I’ve been told by people in the know…that it is highly unlikely I would be charged with anything criminally,” Baldwin added.

Updated 12/11/2021, 4:44 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a comment from Lisa Torracco.

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