Alec Baldwin and gunman Hannah Gutierrez-Reid will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 fatal shooting on the set of the movie “Rust” in New Mexico, officials said Thursday.
Santa Fe First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Althuis and Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced their decision Thursday morning in a written statement shared with the media.
First Assistant Director David Halls has already agreed to plead guilty to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
“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-Althuis said in a statement. “In my day, no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”
In a statement, Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, wrote, “This decision distorts the tragic death of Halina Hutchins and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere else on the set. He relied on the professionals he worked with to assure him that the gun had no live ammunition. We will fight these charges and win.”
Carmack-Althuis’ office said in October she will conduct a “thorough review of the information and evidence to make an informed and timely decision whether to file charges” following a year-long sheriff’s investigation into the shooting on set.
Halina Hutchins, 42, was working as a cameraman on a western when she was shot and killed by the film’s star Baldwin during an accident while he was practicing using a Colt .45 revolver on set. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the shooting.
No charges will be filed in the shooting against Souza, the district attorney’s office said.
Carmack-Altwies and Reeb will be formally charged before the end of the month, after which each defendant will be issued a summons for their first court appearance, which could be made virtual or waived, prosecutors said. During the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide if there is probable cause to proceed with the trial. Preliminary hearings are usually scheduled within 60 days of charges being filed, according to the district attorney’s office.
If the case goes to trial, jurors will have to decide under which definition of manslaughter Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reid are guilty. For the first charge of manslaughter, prosecutors must prove “fundamental negligence,” while the second charge, manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, “requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in the death,” the district attorney’s office said.
Both charges are fourth-degree felonies punishable by up to 18 months in prison, but a firearms enhancement on the second charge could carry a mandatory sentence of five years in prison, prosecutors said.
Souza reportedly told investigators that Baldwin was sitting on a pew at an area church practicing the sign of the cross, facing the camera and crew and pointing the revolver at the camera lens when the shooting occurred, according to the search warrant affidavit .
Halls had handed the gun to Baldwin while announcing “cold gun” to let the crew know that a gun without live ammunition was being used, according to search warrant.
Hutchins was killed by a combat shot inside the gun, authorities said.
There are questions surrounding how the live ammunition got to the set and in the props and whether appropriate precautions were picked up by crew members.
Halls reportedly told investigators he didn’t know there were live rounds in the gun when he gave it to Baldwin, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The attorney for “Rust” gunsmith Gutierrez-Reid, who was in charge of the guns and ammunition on the set, said earlier that his client had no idea where the ammunition came from and was not at the church where the rehearsal took place.
Her attorney, Jason Bowles, did supposed that Gutierrez-Reed was not called to the church to inspect the guns before they were taken out, and that Baldwin did not accept her offer to train him in cross-draw, a “dangerous” method of carrying a gun that originated in the Old West.
Longtime Hollywood gunsmith Tel Reed, Gutierrez-Reed’s father, allegedly told investigators that the ammunition once in his possession “may match the ammunition found on the set of Rust,” according to an affidavit for search warrant executed last year.
The warrant authorized the search of a prop house in Albuquerque, PDQ Arm and Prop LLC, owned by Seth Kenny. Kenney reportedly told detectives he was hired to supply “Rust” with guns, as well as dummy rounds and cartridges, according to the search warrant affidavit.
Reid told investigators that he had worked with Kenny on set several weeks before filming “Rust” and that, according to the affidavit, Kenny took with him to New Mexico an “ammo box” containing live ammunition.
Kenny denied providing live ammunition on set.
“There’s no way they came from PDQ or me personally,” Kenney told ABC News days after the shooting. “When we send dummies, they are individually tested before they are sent.”
Baldwin previously said he did not believe he would face criminal charges in the incident.
“People who are in the know, even within the state, have told me it’s very unlikely that I’ll be charged with anything criminal,” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos an interview weeks after the shooting.
The district attorney’s announcement comes after Hutchins’ family reached an agreement in his wrongful death lawsuit against the film’s producers, including Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC, in October.
Carmack-Altweis’ office had said the settlement would have “no impact” on her decision to press charges.
The incident also led to several lawsuits, including one filed by Baldwin claim of negligence by his crew members.
“Rust” is slated to resume filming in January with all the main cast and Souza back as director.
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