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Alec Baldwin To Be Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter Over ‘Rust’ Shooting

Topline

Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on the set of the movie Rust who died last year when a gun in Baldwin’s hand fired, an undoubtedly surprising turn for Baldwin, who claimed he didn’t pull the trigger of the weapon and that he was told he most likely wouldn’t be charged in the incident.

Alec Baldwin speaks for the first time regarding the accidental shooting that killed cinematographer … [+] Halyna Hutchins, and wounded director Joel Souza on the set of the film “Rust”, on October 30, 2021 in Manchester, Vermont.

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Key Facts

New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said Baldwin, an actor and producer on the film, and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the production’s armorer, will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Assistant director Dave Halls has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, and will serve a suspended sentence and six months of probation.

The charges will be filed by the end of the month.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be charged “in the alternative,” meaning the jury will decide which definition of involuntary manslaughter they are guilty of, if they are found guilty.

They are facing either involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony that carries up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine, or involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires “proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death,” and carries the same punishments, as well as a “firearm enhancement, or added mandatory penalty,” which “makes the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.”

Special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said “if any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple.”

Contra

“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun—or anywhere on the movie set,” a lawyer for Baldwin, Luke Nikas, told Deadline. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.” Lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion told Forbes, “Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter. These charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.”

Crucial Quote

“Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law,” lawyer Brian J. Panish, who represents the Hutchins family, told Deadline. “We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.” Matthew Hutchins, the husband of Halyna, sued Baldwin, Halls and Gutierrez-Reed and others for wrongful death, and the suit was settled in October for an undisclosed amount.

Tangent

In September, the New Mexico Board of Finance granted the DA’s office over $300,000 to be used to potentially prosecute up to four people related to Hutchins’ death, and the request for the funds stated “one of the possible defendants is well known movie actor Alec Baldwin.” Much of the investigation has focused on Baldwin, Halls, Gutierrez-Reed and ammunition supplier Seth Kenney. DNA was collected from each of them, and interviews with staff members showed some had questioned Gutierrez-Reed’s experience, Baldwin’s willingness to participate in trainings and Halls’ indifference to safety, per the investigation records that were released. The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department completed its investigation in October, over one year after the shooting occurred, and handed the case over to the DA.

Key Background

Hutchins was killed on set on October 21, 2021, during a rehearsal. Live bullets were not supposed to be present anywhere on set, and the guns in the movie were supposed to be filled with empty shells or dummy rounds. But when the gun in Baldwin’s hand fired, Hutchins was shot in the chest and director Joel Souza was shot and injured in his shoulder. Production immediately shut down while authorities investigated. It’s not clear how live ammunition made it onto the set. Baldwin has said he was told by people “within the state” it’s “highly unlikely” he would be charged. Crew members have said there were gun safety issues on set, and there had been two previous accidental discharges, according to investigation records released by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s department.

What To Watch For

Production on Rust is set to resume some time this year, and Matthew Hutchins will serve as an executive producer on the project. It’s not clear if the charges will impact these plans.

Further Reading

The ‘Rust’ Shooting, Over One Year Later: Everything You Need To Know (Forbes)

Sheriff’s Department Releases Investigation Into ‘Rust’ Shooting—But Still No Charges Filed (Forbes)

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