Alec Baldwin is criminally charged by New Mexico prosecutors in the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie “Rust,” authorities said Thursday.
Baldwin, the Emmy-winning star of 30 Rock and dozens of films including The Hunt for Red October, fired the bullet that killed Hutchins. Baldwin said in an ABC interview that he “didn’t pull the trigger.” An FBI forensic report received from ABC News that despite Baldwin’s denials, the gun could not have gone off without a trigger being pulled.
Baldwin and the film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, both face two counts of involuntary manslaughter. One of the charges is negligent homicide, which requires prosecutors to show there was underlying negligence, prosecutors said. This is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The second charge is negligent manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, a more serious charge that requires proof that more than simple negligence was involved in a death, prosecutors said. This charge includes a weapon upgrade that adds a mandatory sentence of five years in prison.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are charged under a standard called “alternatively charged.” If the case goes to trial, a jury will decide which of the two counts they are guilty of.
“Rust” assistant director David Halls signed a plea deal on the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, which resulted in a suspended sentence and six months’ probation.
“If any of those three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done his job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today, according to a statement Thursday. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for security on the ‘Rust’ film set.”
The prosecution’s decision was “a terrible miscarriage of justice,” said Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the film set. He relied on the professionals he worked with to assure him the gun had no live cartridges. We’re going to fight fees and we’re going to win.”
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys called it a “very flawed investigation” in a statement Thursday.
“Hannah is and always has been very emotional and saddened by this tragic accident. But she did not commit negligent manslaughter,” they said.
Through lawyers, Hutchins’ relatives thanked the authorities for pursuing the charges.
“It is a comfort to the family that no one is above the law in New Mexico,” said attorney Brian Panish. “We support the prosecution, will cooperate fully with this prosecution, and do hope that the justice system works to protect the public and hold those who break the law accountable.”
After documents received by the New York Post in September, prosecutors have been waiting to review evidence from an FBI investigation since October 2021 after the accidental shooting occurred. After the bureau received the evidence, prosecutors announced they intended to press charges and requested $635,500 in emergency funding to hire a specialized team, including a new prosecutor, investigator and spokesman, to handle the case. The DA received about half of the requested funds.
Hutchins was shot dead on October 21, 2021 during a scene in which Baldwin used a gun filled with live bullets instead of dummies, in violation of Hollywood film standards. Joel Souza, the film’s director, was injured by the bullet but later recovered.
Hall, the film’s assistant director, admitted less than a week after filming that he had not properly safety checked the gun before handing it over to the film’s armorer, Gutierrez Reed, who would pass it on to Baldwin for the scene .
Hutchins’ death fueled a wave of calls for safer shooting protocols on film sets. Her family eventually sued Baldwin and the film’s producers for wrongful death in February 2022. The legal dispute was settled in October and filming resumed on the film with Matt Hutchins, Halyna’s widower, serving as executive producer.
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https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/19/alec-baldwin-to-be-charged-in-fatal-rust-shooting.html Alec Baldwin faces charges in fatal ‘Rust’ shooting