Manslaughter charge for Alec Baldwin in ‘Rust’ set shooting
SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Actor Alec Baldwin and a weapons specialist have been formally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cameraman on a New Mexico movie set, according to court documents filed Tuesday by prosecutors.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies filed the indictment documents that named Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who supervised guns on the set of the western Rust, and outlined evidence that they repeatedly deviated from known safety standards were.
Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 21, 2021. Baldwin pointed a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.
Prosecutors have said Baldwin’s involvement as a producer and as the person who fired the gun weighed the decision to press charges.
In recent weeks, Carmack-Altwies has outlined two cases of involuntary manslaughter allegations related to the shooting.
The manslaughter charge filed against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed on Tuesday includes two alternative standards and sanctions.
One version would require proof of negligence, which under New Mexico law carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The second alternative is reckless disregard for safety “without due caution and caution.” It includes a higher threshold for misconduct and includes a “firearms enhancement” that could result in a mandatory five-year sentence because the offense was committed with a gun.
Prosecutors have said a jury could ultimately decide which definition of manslaughter to pursue.
A probable cause statement outlining evidence against Baldwin alleges many instances of “extremely reckless acts” or reckless failure to take precautionary measures in the days and minutes before the fatal shooting.
Investigators say Baldwin pulled a revolver from a holster, pointed it at Hutchins, and fired the gun, even though an industry-standard plastic or replica gun should have been used.
It said photos and video of the rehearsal, including moments before the fatal shot, showed Baldwin with his finger in the trigger guard and on the trigger while “manipulating” the pistol’s hammer, and that FBI analysis shows the pistol was not without could be fired pressing the trigger.
Investigators say Baldwin did not show up for mandatory firearms training prior to filming and did not fully complete on-set training while he was distracted by family phone calls. They also cite multiple breaches of required safety checks and protocols when the gun was loaded and made available to Baldwin.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have both pleaded innocent and have vowed to take action against the charges.
Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas declined to comment Tuesday, citing his previous statement on the case in which he described the charges as a “horrific miscarriage of justice” that he and his client would fight and win.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the film set,” the statement said. “He relied on the professionals he worked with.”
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney said they would release a statement later.
Prosecutors say Baldwin, in his role as producer of Rust, failed to explain Gutierrez-Reed’s relative inexperience as an uncertified gunsmith on her second film assignment. They allege that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed skipped a critical safety review of the gun and its ammunition, and that Baldwin, as an actor with extensive experience in films involving firearms, should have known better.
“Standard protocol is for the gunsmith to show the actor the gun, pull out the bullets in front of the actor, and demonstrate that there are no live rounds (but dummies) in the gun,” investigators said. “Hannah Gutierrez-Reed didn’t do this protocol before Baldwin. Baldwin did not object.”
Prosecutors also presented a new on-set live ammunition statement and found that five other live cartridges were recovered by authorities, including a cartridge in Baldwin’s holster, as well as an ammunition box, holster, gun carriage and a live cartridge confiscated from Gutierrez -Reed.
Hutchins’ death has already prompted new safety precautions in the film industry.
Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press in a Jan. 19 interview that the set “moved really pretty fast and loose” and that Baldwin should have known there had been previous misfires on the set and that several people had raised safety concerns.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are summoned to appear in court. Prosecutors will forgo a grand jury and rely on a judge to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to a trial. It can take up to 60 days for a decision to be made.
Manslaughter by negligence can include killing that occurs while a suspect is doing something lawful but dangerous and is acting carelessly or carelessly.
Prosecutors say a proposed settlement agreement, signed by assistant director David Halls, who oversaw on-set security, has not yet been approved by a judge and cannot be released.
Prosecutors previously said Halls agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. Prosecutors say Halls may have mishandled the gun before handing it to Baldwin.
Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for prosecutors, said in a statement Monday that prosecutors are “fully focused on ensuring justice for Halyna Hutchins” and “the evidence and facts speak for themselves.”
Baldwin, also co-producer of Rust, has called the murder a tragic accident. The 64-year-old actor said he was told the gun was safe and tried to clear his name by suing people involved in the handling and delivery of the loaded .45 caliber revolver.
In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while he was working with Hutchins on camera angles, he pointed the gun in her direction and backed away, releasing the hammer of the gun, which discharged.
Defense attorney Jason Bowles, representing Gutierrez-Reed, said the charges were the result of “flawed investigation” and an “improper understanding of the full facts.”
Defendants can attend many first trials remotely or request a waiver of their first appearance.
The decision to indict Baldwin marks an amazing turn of events for an A-list actor whose 40-year career spanned early blockbuster The Hunt for Red October and a starring role on the sitcom 30 Rock, as well as iconic performances in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and a film adaptation directed by David Mamets “Glengar Glen Ross”. In recent years, Baldwin has been known for his impression of ex-President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.
Andrew Dalton, a writer at AP Entertainment in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.