Post 368

What Troubles Me: Reflections on the 'Accidental' Death of Halyna Hutchins

I can’t sleep.
He knew the gun was loaded.
He had been obsessed with guns for a long time.
Sometimes those who appear the most opposed are the most desirous of the thing they oppose.
They cannot have it themselves, so they don’t want anyone else to have it.
They protest guns because they want one.
They even know which ones, exactly, they want.
He wanted a Colt, vintage style.
He had wondered, for a long time, how it would feel to lethally shoot someone.
It is not a typical thing to wonder.
A person might have a passing thought, but you do not add the dot dot dot.
He wrote, publicly, “I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone…”
I needed to check — did he write more? Why the ellipsis?
No, those three eery dots are his.
They represent his unspoken thoughts.
His words in 2017 do not sympathize with Dillan Tabares, the victim.
They focus on the emotions — the sensations — one would experience.
These words are beyond ironic; they are creepy.

I think he began planning a long time ago.
It was called, in his mind, The Great Accident.
When he chose where, he did a Google search:
“map which states have death penalty”
The map showed that the death penalty is illegal in New Mexico and Colorado.
A second search:
“accidental murder laws New Mexico”
He saw it was a fourth-degree felony and 18-months jail term.
A third search, for the sake of comparison:
“accidental murder laws Colorado”
He saw it was a second-degree felony with 6-years imprisonment.
There was no comparison.
He prided himself on the fact that he was researching this.
He felt nobody had worked on a single murder on a scale as grand as this.
He chose a script.
It was pure genius to tell the tale of an accidental murder, he thought.
This is how cocky he was.
And even though any film is difficult to organize and expensive to produce,
He had a secret that made it worth all the trouble and even the money.
There would be guns.
Of course! It’s a western, you know.
But there would also be ammunition
For authenticity, you know.
And in New Mexico, the rules are softer.
California requires a trained armorer and is just all round tougher.
The budget would be small because what did it matter?

At first, he had no plans that it would be her.
It did not matter, back then, who it was.
But he was always thinking about the Great Decision
Which was, perhaps, a good alternate name for the drama he was living, he thought.
It could be an extra, maybe.
Some days he was so angry that an assault rifle would have suited his tastes,
But that was just not classy.
Nevertheless, he greeted the feeling of power in that thought.
The film was the world he created.
People should be glad to be a part of it.
The demands of the crew made him very, very, angry.
The union made him angry.
In the Facetime video that his wife posted, he pauses just before he says

just so you know that he wasn’t going to use the word people.
I ask then, what were they, to him?
The union posted his video to show you his words:
Go ahead and strike if you want, he said,
the studio bosses “don’t give a f**k about you”
He was the producer of this show
He had say over budget and safety be damned
If he wanted live weapons
Was someone going to argue about it?
People heard two gunshots pop pop
In one of the cabins
And the week before, there was another
There were safety concerns, it has been said
No kidding
Many crew members left the show for this reason
They left also because the production broke its promise to pay for hotels in nearby Santa Fe
Now the hotels on offer were 50 miles away in Alburquerque
Those who insisted on a hotel in Santa Fe were offered a garbage roadside motel
So some slept in their cars
Cheques had not been issued
Brave Halyna was the spokesman for the rest
Earning his wrath
He was already envious
Her star was so incredibly bright
Brighter than his?
That very day, when so many had walked off the set
Halyna remained
Working, steady as ever
Good Halyna
Wife, mother, daughter, friend

Then, the shot.

And after the gunshot,
How did he react?
Did he scream in horror?
Did he shout out in agony and confusion?
Did he rush forth to see them as they fell?
Well then, what?

They say he had words.
He said,
“How could I have been given a hot gun?
In all my years, I’ve never been handed a hot gun.”

People are on the ground
While others are panicking
Everyone is confused about what could have happened
The sound of the gun is ringing in the ear
He soliloquizes about his lengthy career?
And he shows he knows the lingo
It was a HOT gun
I see, Mr. Slick.

These are not the words of someone in anguish over the harm he has caused
These are the same types of words he habitually uses to blame others
It’s always the fault of someone else
He is never to blame
When he punches one photographer, it’s the photographer’s fault
When he punches another photographer, it’s the photographer’s fault
When he is evicted from an airplane, it’s the flight attendant’s fault
When he calls his 11-year old daughter a rude, thoughtless, little pig, it’s the fault of the media for bringing it up

And words of blame at a time like this?
How odd.

And let me ask you, dear jurors, why he would talk about the gun being hot at all?
How could he comprehend so instantaneously that a live bullet had been fired?
Would he not be utterly confused at how people are falling down, injured?
Would he not wonder if something came from somewhere else or someone else to injure them?
Would he not be 100% convinced that the gun held blanks?

In such situations, that is how we are.
In the shock of the moment,
We stand in disbelief and cannot reconcile the simplest things.
We will believe contradictory things at once when confronted with a sudden problem:
I know I put my phone right here but now it’s gone.
I swung my racket perfectly but it flew out of my hand.
I was driving very carefully but I didn’t see the tree.

He should have been convinced that the gun had blanks for quite a while,
Especially since he had been told by the assistant director that the gun was “cold.”
But he is not confused about the gun at all.
In fact, he knows everything right away and is already beginning his defence.
The world is wondering what could have gone wrong, but he wasn’t confused.

He did not scream, “Something is wrong! Why are they hurt? What was wrong with the gun?”
“Tell me! Anybody! What happened?!”
“Halyna! Halyna! Joel!!! Talk to me! Are you okay? What is going on?”

No, there isn’t that kind of confusion about what is happening.
There isn’t even confusion about the gun.
He instantly knows that the problem stems from the fact that the gun he was given had live ammunition.
And, in addition to being knowledgeable about that, he points the finger at others.

There is no confusion.
He has a script all in his head.
These are the lines he has memorized.

But he is an actor, not a writer.
His lines are unrealistic.
He describes the gun’s contents immediately after shooting.
How does he know?

I am convinced that the assistant director was convinced the gun was safe.
But it’s true he didn’t check.
He was lazy and a little arrogant.
As for Hannah Gutierrez Reed,
I think she was a little too cool about the gun that was hot.
She unloaded the spent cartridge as if it was just another day of shooting.
Is that not tampering with the evidence?
I feel she let some things slide
And just didn’t mind.