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Alec Baldwin Formally Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter For 'Rust' Shooting Death
Prosecutors say Alec Baldwin gave "inconsistent accounts" of what happened the day Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on set.
Criminal charges against Baldwin for involuntary manslaughter were formally filed on Tuesday, just days after New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced her plans to charge the 64-year-old Long Island native with the fourth-degree felony, according to a statement e-mailed to Oxygen.com.
Baldwin and film armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed — who is also charged with involuntary manslaughter — are accused of being at least partially responsible for the Oct. 21, 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while cast and crew were filming the western film "Rust" in Santa Fe County, New Mexico.
“Today, we have taken another important step in securing justice for Halyna Hutchins,” said Carmack-Altwies. “In New Mexico, no one is above the law.”
David Halls, the film’s assistant director, has already pleaded no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to Carmack-Altwies. Although the paperwork for the plea was submitted, the District Attorney’s Office says it must first be approved by a judge before it can be released.
According to ABC News, a plea conference in his case has been scheduled for March 8.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are both charged with involuntary manslaughter, but, if they go to trial, a jury will be tasked with deciding whether they are guilty of involuntary manslaughter committed during an unlawful act, or involuntary manslaughter committed during a lawful act, “which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection,” according to court records filed with the First Judicial District Court, as reviewed by Oxygen.com.
Prosecutors say Baldwin was handling the prop gun — a .45 caliber Colt replica F.LLI Pietta — while rehearsing scenes with Hutchins, “Rust” director Joel Souza and others, according to probable cause affidavits by district attorney Special Investigator Robert Shilling. Although it’s not entirely clear how live ammunition got into the prop, a bullet was discharged, tearing through Hutchins’ torso by entering her armpit and exiting her back before striking Souza in the shoulder.
Souza survived his injuries, while Hutchins died a short time later.
Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the trigger, claiming it had just “gone off,” according to the affidavit.
“Baldwin made this assertion public as well, in multiple media interviews conducted after the shooting,” Shilling wrote in the probable cause statement reviewed by Oxygen.com. “Many media interviews and law enforcement interviews were conducted by Baldwin, and he displayed very inconsistent accounts of what happened during the incident when firing the gun that killed Hutchins.”
Additionally, a multitude of ballistics tests performed “clearly showed that the weapon could not ‘accidentally fire,’” leading the FBI to conclude that the trigger would have had to be pulled for the weapon to discharge, according to the affidavit.
To support their argument, prosecutors point to photo and video evidence which show Baldwin rehearsing with the prop gun shortly before the shooting, according to Shilling.
“The photos and video clearly show Baldwin, multiple times, with his finger inside of the trigger guard and on the trigger, while manipulating the hammer and while drawing, pointing and holstering the revolver.”
Prosecutors also noted that Baldwin “was not present” for “required firearms training” prior to filming. Co-defendant Gutierrez-Reed reported Baldwin had limited training and that when a training session had been scheduled, Baldwin allegedly spent the time “distracted and talking on his cell phone,” according to the affidavit.
Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas called the recent charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice,” according to ABC News.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun or anywhere on the movie set,” Nikas stated. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”
Gutierrez-Reed, for her part, was in charge of the weapon and other gun props on set, though, according to prosecutors, she “possessed no certification or certifiable training or union ‘card’ for this practice.” Prosecutors say Baldwin — who was a producer on “Rust” — was responsible for overseeing this.
Five unspent rounds were collected as evidence after the shooting, and FBI agents determined they were actual, live ammunition, according to the probable cause statement for Gutierrez-Reed.
“Industry standards, practices, requirements and common firearm safety protocols and procedures indicate that the most egregious incident of a reckless violation of safety and armorer duties is to allow live ammunition on or even near a film set where firearms are being used,” according to the affidavit. “Gutierrez-Reed was responsible for this safety item and recklessly failed to ensure safety by allowing live ammunition on the set.”
Gutierrez-Reed allegedly handed the gun to Halls, who then gave it to Baldwin inside a church — where the scene was about to shoot — before Gutierrez-Reed reportedly left the set.
Prosecutors say she was responsible for staying with the weapon at all times.
Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion, representing Gutierrez-Reed, previously said the district attorney “completely misunderstood the facts” when deciding to charge their client, according to ABC news.
“Hannah pleaded to provide more firearms training,” they stated. “She was denied and brushed aside.”
Bowles and Bullion claim Gutierrez-Reed asked Halls to use a plastic gun for the shot but that Halls allegedly stated he wanted to use “a real gun.” They also claim Halls failed to call Gutierrez-Reed back into the church when rehearsals began, a decision that could have changed the day’s outcome.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are scheduled to make their first courtroom appearances on Feb. 24.
Production for "Rust" is expected to continue, with Baldwin as lead actor and Souza directing.