‘Rust’ Trial: Deputy Springs to Action as Gun Expert Appears to Point Empty Revolver at Judge | Video

Exactly where the firearms-safety witness pointed the muzzle isn’t definitive – but the bailiff wasn’t taking any chances

A gun-safety expert testifying in the “Rust” shooting trial for the defense appeared to point an empty revolver at the judge, prompting the deputy to lunge into the witness box and push the barrel down toward the floor.

Frank Koucky III was called Tuesday by Jason Bowles, attorney for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the ill-fated western on trial for manslaughter. With the permission of the court, Koucky had brought in multiple real and replica revolvers to demonstrate their safe handling.

But the presence of the guns immediately rattled the courtroom. As he pulled out a pistol and pointed it toward the ceiling, special prosecutor Kari Morrissey stood to raise an objection, and that’s where Judge Mary Sommer took charge:

“Alright, first of all, everybody’s nervous because you have not demonstrated to us that [the firearms] are unloaded,” she said, “so before you start showing us the weapons, make sure they’re unloaded, including the one you just touched.”

As if to comply, Koucky pointed the barrel down and began the clearing sequence – but then swung it level and to the left, in the direction of Sommer’s bench. That’s when the white-gloved bailiff sprang to action, reaching across the witness box to put his hand over the firearm and point it back toward the floor.

Koucky then cleared the gun to the court’s satisfaction, and Bowles calmly continued his questioning for several minutes. But when Morrisey had her chance at a cross-examination, she brought it up right away.

“Do you agree with me that basic gun safety requires that the handler of the gun not point the gun at anyone?” she pointedly asked.

“If it’s a real gun, yes,” Koucky replied.

“Do you agree with me that while you were sitting here in the courtroom that you pulled out a gun and you pointed it at the judge?” Morrissey asked.

“I do not. I pointed the gun into the space up here, never directly at the judge,” Koucky said, using his index finger to demonstrate.

“Do you agree that basic gun safety requires that you keep the muzzle of the gun pointed down for safety?” she then asked.

“Not at all.” Koucky said, saying a safe-carry also “may be pointed up, may be pointed back, may be pointed cross-arms, as in the military, may be pointed at the ground. So, no.”

In fairness to Koucky, the video does not definitively show the muzzle pointed directly at Somer. His finger-gun demonstration included an over-the-shoulder hold that would place its sights somewhere on the wall behind and between them – which the camera angle does not fully discount.

But it was close enough to get the deputy motivated.

“Do you agree that when you pulled that firearm out and pointed it in the direction of the judge the deputy next to you had to intervene and grab the gun and pointed it down?” the prosecutor asked.

Bowles shouted “Objection!,” the attorneys gathered at the bench for a privileged conversation, and the matter was over.

Judge for yourself in the CourtTV video clip above.

Gutierrez-Reed was convicted of manslaughter later on Wednesday.


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