Baldwin was rehearsing with a pistol at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico in October 2021 when it went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring the director.
Prosecutors said Thursday that Oscar-nominated actor Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western film “Rust” in New Mexico.
According to New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, Baldwin and the film’s armourer who was in charge of weapons on the set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, will each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
According to the DA’s office, the first assistant director, David Halls, has agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon.
“This decision distorts the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice.” “Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, issued a statement.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to suspect a live bullet was in the gun — or anywhere else on the set. He trusted the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him that the gun contained no live rounds. We will fight these charges and prevail.”
Gutierrez-attorney Reed’s has also promised to prove his client’s innocence.
“Hannah is, and has always been, deeply moved by this tragic accident. She did not, however, commit involuntary manslaughter “In a statement, Jason Bowles stated.
“These charges are the result of a flawed investigation and an incorrect understanding of the entire picture. We intend to expose the entire truth, and we believe Hannah will be found not guilty by a jury.”
Punishment could be up to 5 years behind bars
According to prosecutors, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. However, prosecutors said that a firearm enhancement on the charges could make the crime punishable by a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
“I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew after a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico,” Carmack-Altwies said in a statement.
“No one is above the law under my watch, and everyone deserves justice.”
Hutchins was fatally shot nearly 15 months ago on Oct. 21, 2021, while filming “Rust” at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico. Baldwin was rehearsing a scene with a pistol inside a church when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
Prosecutors said no charges will be filed in connection with Souza’s injuries.
Prosecutor: A ‘disregard for safety’ led to tragedy
“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. That simple,” said special prosecutor Andrea Reeb in a statement.
“The evidence clearly demonstrates a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. There is no place in New Mexico for film sets that do not respect our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety.”
Hutchins, 42, is survived by her husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their 9-year-old son, Aldous.
The family has stated that they support the prosecutors’ decision to file criminal charges.
“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 intentional killing of Halyna Hutchins.” “according to a statement issued by the family’s attorney, Brian Panish.
“Our independent investigation also confirms that charges are justified. It is reassuring to the family that no one is above the law in New Mexico. We support the charges, will fully cooperate with the prosecution, and hope that the justice system works to protect the public and hold those who break the law accountable.”
Charges will be formally filed by the end of the month, likely leading to a preliminary hearing within 60 days, Carmack-Altwies said.
According to the prosecutor, this is when a judge will decide whether prosecutors have presented enough evidence to proceed with a trial.
“In this case, there is a very clear process for pursuing justice,” Carmack-Altwies said. “We are committed to maintaining the process’s integrity in order to ensure equal justice under the law.”
The charges were announced three months after the Sante Fe Sheriff’s Office submitted its investigative findings to prosecutors.
In April, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he suspected a “degree of neglect” on the set of “Rust.” However, he deferred decisions on criminal charges to the district attorney’s office.
Hutchins’ husband reached a settlement in his wrongful death lawsuit against the producers of “Rust,” including Baldwin, in early October.
In a statement, Matthew Hutchins stated that filming would resume in January and that he would join the project as an executive producer as part of the agreement.
“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” Baldwin said in an Instagram post following the announcement of the settlement. “We are grateful to everyone who helped us resolve this tragic and painful situation.”
Baldwin maintains he’s not responsible for death
According to The Associated Press, the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator determined that the shooting was an accident based on autopsy results and a review of law enforcement documents.
Baldwin gave his first public account of the fatal shooting to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in December 2021, claiming that he did not pull the trigger. He insisted vehemently that he was not to blame and that he did not feel guilty about the incident.
“I believe someone is to blame for what happened, but I can’t say who,” he said. “However, I know it’s not me.”
Baldwin went on to say that if he could, he’d “go to any length to undo what happened.”
According to a plot synopsis on the Internet Movie Database, “Rust” is set in Kansas in the 1880s and stars Baldwin as a greying outlaw who goes on the run with his estranged grandson after the boy accidentally kills a local rancher.
When filming resumes this month, Souza is expected to return as director. He previously directed the independent crime dramas “Crown Vic” and “Break Night,” both of which were well-received.
Baldwin is a prolific actor best known for his roles in the NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” as executive Jack Donaghy on “Saturday Night Live,” and in films such as “Beetlejuice” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
He was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor for his performance in “The Cooler,” which was released in 2003.