Alec Baldwin was charged Thursday with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the film’s set Rust last year.
After a lengthy investigation, New Mexico’s First District Attorney’s Office announced charges stemming from the October 2021 shooting on Thursday. In addition to Baldwin, the film’s gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will also face charges of involuntary manslaughter, while first assistant director David Halls was struck for negligent use of a deadly weapon charge; Halls has already agreed to plead guilty to that charge.
“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 bring criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew,” New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. “Under my watch, no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”
“If any one of those three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls – had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” added Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the prosecutor for the case. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety in Rust movie set. In New Mexico, there is no room for movie sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
According to prosecutors, both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “’alternatively charged’ on the two counts of manslaughter, meaning a jury will decide not only whether they are guilty, but under what definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty.” If found guilty only of involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony, both would face up to 18 months in prison. However, if found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a legal act, which includes an “increase of firearm” in the charge, the punishment is a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Charges will be formally filed later this month, at which time each defendant will receive a summons to appear at their first hearing; the Public Ministry noted that the defendants could attend the hearing virtually.
Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza injured during a rehearsal on the set of Rust on October 21, 2021. The incident occurred when Baldwin inadvertently fired a propelled gun that had been loaded with a live bullet. There were numerous investigations into the incident by various government agencies, from the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office to the FBI.
New Mexico’s First District Attorney’s Office has also been conducting its own investigations, with recent actions suggesting it was preparing to file charges. On September 23, the new mexican reported that the state’s Board of Finance awarded the DA’s office more than $317,000 (out of $635,000 requested) to prosecute people connected to the shooting. While District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies declined to say who would face criminal charges at the time, the original funding request named Baldwin as one of the “possible defendants.”
While these are the first criminal charges related to Hutchins’ death, the shooting has prompted several civil suits (as well as a few fines). Most notably, the Hutchins family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Baldwin, Rust producer Ryan Donnell Smith, rookie gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, assistant director Dave Halls, prop master Sarah Zachary and “gunsmith mentor” Seth Kenney.
The Hutchins family’s lawsuit read in part: “Halyna Hutchins deserved to live and Defendants had the power to prevent her death if they had deemed sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of all individuals on a set where firearms were present, rather than to cut costs. about safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to meet schedules and ignoring numerous complaints of safety breaches.” (Baldwin denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death and demanded that the wrongful-death lawsuit be taken to arbitration in a lawsuit last March.)
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