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Alec Baldwin, Other Crew To Be Charged in ‘Rust’ Shooting – The Hollywood Reporter

Jan 21, 2023

Prosecutors in New Mexico on Thursday announced criminal charges will be filed against Alec Baldwin in connection with his role in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of Rust.

Mary Carmack-Altwies, the district attorney who serves Santa Fe County, will charge star and producer Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

Assistant director David Halls also signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The terms include a suspended sentence and six months of probation.

The announcement of the charges comes more than a year after the death of Halyna Hutchins, who was shot Oct. 21, 2021, when an old-fashioned revolver being handled by Baldwin went off. He was handed the gun by Halls and told that it did not contain live ammunition, but it discharged, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. (No charges are being filed in connection with Souza’s injury.) Five live rounds mixed in with dummy rounds were found on set following the shooting.

“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 in a statement. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”

Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s lawyer, stressed in a statement that his client “relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”

“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.”

Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, said in a statement that the charges are the “result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts.”

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative” with the two counts of manslaughter. That means if a jury finds either of them guilty, it will also determine under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they are guilty, according to the DA’s announcement.

For involuntary manslaughter to be proved, there must be negligence. Under New Mexico law, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony and is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. It includes a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a firearm.

The jury could alternatively make a finding of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in Hutchins’ death. This charge includes a firearm enhancement, according to the DA, which carries an added penalty and makes the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.

“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 special prosecutor Andrea Reeb in a statement Thursday. “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.”

The DA’s office will file charges with New Mexico’s First Judicial District Court before the end of the month. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled within 60 days of the filing of the charges. The announcement notes that COVID restrictions have changed protocols and, during the hearing, a judge will take on the role of a grand jury, hear the DA and special prosecutor present their case and decide “whether there is probable cause to move forward with a trial.”

Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the trigger, although an FBI forensics report found that the gun couldn’t have been fired without its trigger being pulled while it was cocked. It remains unclear how live rounds got onto the set.

“Someone is responsible … but I know it’s not me,” Baldwin told ABC News in a December 2021 interview.

Gutierrez-Reed, who handled the gun prior to the shooting, was a central focus of the investigation. The daughter of longtime Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, she was responsible for overseeing all weapons and served as props assistant in a dual role. She was hired on the production in only her second job as head armorer.

Ammunitions supplier Seth Kenney, props master Sarah Zachry and Halls, who was the on-set safety coordinator and handled the gun before handing it to Baldwin, were also among those who could have been charged.

Baldwin continues to face claims of assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence in a suit from script supervisor Mamie Mitchell. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Whitaker found in November that there was “extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of Baldwin,” who “unexpectedly cocked and fired a loaded handgun” despite being aware of a disastrous safety culture on the set of Rust.

The actor in November sued several crewmembers, including Gutierrez-Reed, Zachry, Halls and Kenney, accusing them of negligence for giving him a loaded firearm. “This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun,” reads the cross-complaint filed in response to Mitchell’s suit.

Halls, who was responsible for on-set safety as the first assistant director, in December countersued Baldwin and other crewmembers, arguing that it was their “active and primary negligence” that caused the fatal shooting.

Notably, Rust Movie Productions wasn’t charged despite being plagued by safety issues during filming and continues to fight legal battles on multiple fronts. The company allegedly shirked industrywide norms related to the use of guns by cutting corners to shoot the movie on a shoestring budget, according to suits against the producers of the movie from Hutchins and Mitchell.

In April, New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau issued the highest level citation and maximum fine allowable by state law of $136,793 for numerous violations of safety protocols on the Rust set, including the introduction of live ammunition and a failure to train crew on how to properly handle firearms. A report from the agency revealed that there were two previous incidents in which firearms accidentally went off. The first misfire, which happened Oct. 16, less than a week before the fatal shooting, occurred when Zachry inadvertently fired a blank round as she finished loading a 0.45 caliber revolver that was aimed at the ground. The second involved the stunt double for Baldwin, who said the gun “just went off.”

In contesting the fine, Rust Movie Productions has argued that it’s not at fault for the on-set shooting because it wasn’t an employer on the production and relied on independent contractors, namely Gutierrez-Reed, to supervise gun safety. The production company said that she was the sole worker “singularly responsible for all tasks associated with the use of firearms and ammunition,” including responsibilities related to “ensuring that RMP’s express prohibition against the presence of live ammunition was strictly followed, ensuring that only blanks were used when called for by the script, and that only dummy rounds were used,” according to court filings.

Rust Movie Production is similarly distancing itself from individuals who it says bear responsibility for the incident in the suit from Mitchell. In that case, a judge ruled in September that the company will not have to face the central claims in the suit because it didn’t know that Baldwin would actually shoot the gun that killed Hutchins. Since the shooting, the producers of the movie have maintained that they weren’t responsible for supervising the production, arguing that they simply financed the movie.

A lawsuit from chief lighting technician Serge Svetnoy also continues to make its way through Los Angeles Superior Court.

The charging decision from the district attorney’s office that serves Santa Fe County comes more than a year after the fatal shooting and more than two months after the county sheriff’s office delivered its investigative report — and as plans to finish the movie march forward in the wake of a settlement between Rust Movie Productions and Hutchins’ family. Filming resumed in January outside of New Mexico, where filming of the movie first took place before it was suspended, with Hutchins’ husband as an executive producer.

Brian Panish, who represented Hutchins’ family in their settlement with Rust Movie Productions, said in a statement that he supports the charges and will cooperate with the prosecution.

“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,” he said. “Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted.”

Gloria Allred, Mitchell’s lawyer, stressed that the district attorney bringing charges was vital to advancing safety of crewmembers on set.

“We believe that this decision is important for all film workers who deserve protection when doing their jobs and proves that even movie stars are not above the law and must answer for their actions,” she said in a statement.

A lawyer for Halls didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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