Alec Baldwin to be charged with manslaughter in the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer on the set of 'Rust'

Alec Baldwin on the set of "Rust" after the October 21, 2021 fatal shooting.
Alec Baldwin on the set of "Rust" after the October 21, 2021 fatal shooting.Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office
  • New Mexico prosecutors plan to charge Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday.

  • Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in an accidental misfire on a movie set in 2021.

  • A bullet from the gun fatally struck Hutchins and injured the movie's director, Joel Souza.

New Mexico prosecutors said Monday that they plan to charge Alec Baldwin on Tuesday with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the indie Western movie "Rust" in October 2021.

New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies first announced the charges against Baldwin on January 19, before they were officially filed. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on set, will face the same charges.

In a press release on January 30, prosecutors said the charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would be filed the following day, at which point charging documents and probable cause statements will be released to the public. Officials also plan to release the details of a plea agreement they cut with the film's assistant director, David Halls, who pleaded guilty to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

"After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the 'Rust' film crew," Carmack-Altwies said earlier this month. "On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."

Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb said that "if any one of these three people" — Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed, and Halls — "had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It's that simple."

"The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the 'Rust' film set," Reeb said. "In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don't take our state's commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously."

If convicted of the most serious charge, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could face up to five years in jail.

In an interview with CNN after the charges were announced, Carmack-Altwies harshly criticized Baldwin, saying "an actor does not get a free pass just because they are an actor."

The district attorney said there was "such a lack of safety and safety standards" on the "Rust" set where live ammunition was found "mixed in" with dummy rounds.

"Nobody was checking those or at least they weren't checking them consistently and then they somehow got loaded into a gun, handed off to Alec Baldwin — he didn't check it, he didn't do any of the things that he was supposed to do to make sure that he was safe or that anyone around him was safe. And then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and he pulled the trigger," Carmack-Altwies said.

Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas told Insider that prosecutors' decision to bring charges against the actor "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," Nikas said. "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."

An attorney for Gutierrez-Reed said the charges "are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts."

"Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter," lawyer Jason Bowles said in a statement, adding, "We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury."

Baldwin, who was producing and starring in "Rust," fatally shot 42-year-old Hutchins during a rehearsal inside a church building on the Santa Fe movie set on October 21, 2021.

The shooting happened as Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw technique that involved him pointing a Colt .45 revolver at a camera on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set, according to affidavits previously released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office.

A bullet from the gun struck Hutchins, a married mother of one, mortally wounding her. The movie's director, Joel Souza, was also injured by the bullet.

Baldwin has called the shooting a "tragic accident" and said that he never pulled the trigger of the gun that fired and resulted in the death of Hutchins.

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them," Baldwin told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in a December 2021 interview.

The "30 Rock" actor said at the time, "Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me."

"Someone put a live bullet in a gun," he added. "A bullet that was not even supposed to be on the property."

A report released last year by the FBI concluded that the gun used in the "Rust" shooting could not have been fired without the trigger being pulled.

Baldwin, who has been named as a defendant in multiple lawsuits in the aftermath of the shooting, filed a lawsuit late last year to "clear his name" over the incident.

In the suit, Baldwin claimed that Hutchins died due to the negligence of other crew members on the set of the low-budget movie and that he was told that the gun that was handed to him was safe.

Hutchins' husband, Matthew Hutchins, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and other crew members in February 2022, alleging that the "Rust" producers cut corners on safety procedures and that Baldwin "recklessly shot and killed" Hutchins.

In October 2022, it was announced that the production company behind "Rust" and the Hutchins family reached an undisclosed settlement in the wrongful death suit. Matthew Hutchins announced at the time that he will serve as an executive producer for the movie.

Hutchins' family hailed the announcement that criminal charges will be brought in connection to the shooting.

"We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life," Hutchins' family said through attorney Brian Panish.

The statement continued, "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. 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."

The shooting was ruled an accident in August 2022 by New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator.

Meanwhile, New Mexico state regulators last year fined the producers of "Rust" nearly $140,000 for weapons safety failures on the movie set.

In the weeks after the shooting, investigators recovered about 500 rounds of ammunition — including blanks, dummy rounds, and suspected live rounds — from the "Rust" set.

Read the original article on Insider