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Prosecutors To File Involuntary Manslaughter Charges Against Alec Baldwin, Armorer, In 'Rust' Shooting
Alec Baldwin and the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are expected to be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 on-set death of Halyna Hutchins. Assistant director David Halls has already pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon in the case.
Actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, after prosecutors concluded there was “criminal disregard for safety” on the “Rust” film set.
David Halls, the film’s assistant director, has already signed a plea deal admitting to negligent use of a deadly weapon in connection to the shooting, according to a statement Thursday from New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies.
“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,” Andrea Reeb, a special prosecutor appointed by the DA to the case, said in the statement obtained by Oxygen.com. “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.”
Baldwin had been holding an antique revolver during a rehearsal for the western film “Rust” on the afternoon of Oct. 21, 2021 when the weapon discharged. The bullet tore through Hutchins chest before boring into the shoulder of director Joel Souza.
While Souza survived his injury, Hutchins was killed.
Baldwin has long insisted that he believed at the time that the weapon was a “cold gun,” a term used in the industry to refer to a weapon without any live rounds.
“The trigger wasn’t pulled,” he said at the time. “I didn’t pull the trigger.”
However, an FBI report released last year concluded that the .45 caliber Colt replica F.Lli Pietta single-action revolver used in the shooting “could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger,” according to the report previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
While it's still not clear how the live round got into the weapon, authorities said in a search warrant affidavit previously obtained by Oxygen.com that Halls had handed the weapon to Baldwin during the rehearsal and announced it was a “cold gun.”
As the armorer, Gutierrez-Reed had been tasked with caring for the weapon and other guns on the set. Her attorney Jason Bowles has alleged previously that the day of the shooting, she had not been called inside the small church to inspect the weapon before the rehearsal began, ABC News reports.
According to prosecutors, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative” with the two counts of manslaughter, which means that jurors would be tasked with not only determining their guilt or innocence but also which definition of involuntary manslaughter they believed fit the circumstances.
The first charge, referred to as involuntary manslaughter, would require prosecutors to prove there had been underlying negligence. The second option would be involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which would require prosecutors to prove that Hutchins’ death had gone beyond simple negligence.
Both charges are considered fourth-degree felonies and are punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine, prosecutors said. In the case of manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, however, there is a firearm enhancement which comes with a “mandatory penalty” of five years behind bars.
The charges against both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are expected to be filed by the end of the month, prosecutors said.
“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,” Carmack-Altwies said while announcing the charges. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas called the decision to charge the actor a "terrible miscarriage of justice."
"This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," he said. "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. 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."
Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion said they also plan to fight the charges.
"Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter," they said in a statement obtained by Oxygen.com. "These charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury."
After the announcement was made Thursday morning, Hutchins’ family said in a statement to Oxygen.com they believed the charges were “warranted.”
“We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life,” read the statement released on behalf of the family by attorney Brian J. Panish. “Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted. It is comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law.”
“We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law,” the statement concludes.
Prosecutors said once the charges are formally filed both will be required to make a "first appearance" in court, although that can be done virtually or even waived.