Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter in 'Rust' film shooting
Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after accidentally shooting and killing 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust in 2021, prosecutors in New Mexico announced Thursday.
The movie's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, will also be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
The charges are expected to be filed by the end of the month.
“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,” Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
David Halls, the first assistant director of the movie, has pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon and will face a suspended sentence with six months of probation.
No charges are expected to be filed for the non-fatal shooting of the move's director Joel Souza.
Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas said in a statement that the judgement "distorts" Hutchins' death and "represents a terrible miscarriage of justice."
"Mr. Baldwan 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."
In affidavits from the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, Halls gave one of three prop guns to Baldwin before filming the scene. Halls declared that the firearm was "cold," meaning that the gun did not contain live rounds.
According the one of the affidavits, Baldwin took the gun and fired it.
“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,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the DA to the case.
“The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. 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,” Reeb said.
In New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5000 fine.
Fifteen months after the incident, investigators have still not said how live ammunition made it onto the set, the Wall Street Journal reported.
However in April last year, New Mexico's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OSHA) discovered that the film’s producers did not follow firearm safety procedures. The agency slapped a civil penalty of nearly $137,000 on the production company, the maximum fine allowed under state law.
OSHA's report also showed that Halls didn’t consult with Gutierrez Reed before giving the firearm to Baldwin.
Since the accident, Baldwin has repeatedly denied pulling the trigger on the gun.
“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never,” he said in an interview with ABC News in 2021. “Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.”
In a statement released by Halyna Hutchins' family lawyer, Brian Panish, he said that her family fully supports the charges, saying that the incident reveals a "conscious disregard for human life."
"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," he said.