Actor Alec Baldwin and a crew member on the set of the Western film “Rust” will each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter after the on-set shooting that killed a cinematographer and wounded a director, New Mexico prosecutors announced Thursday.
In 2021, Baldwin fired a prop gun that was supposedly loaded “cold,” or unloaded, on the “Rust” set, killing Halyna Hutchins and wounding film’s director Joel Souza.
The two involuntary manslaughter charges mean that Baldwin and the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, will face a jury that will not only decide their guilt or innocence but also which definition of involuntary manslaughter best fits the circumstances around Hutchins’ death. No charges are related to Souza’s injury, prosecutors added.
The first type of involuntary manslaughter, a simpler charge, only requires that “there must be underlying negligence,” the release said. This fourth-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The second type, known as involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, requires that there was more than just simple negligence involved and includes a firearm enhancement, or a mandatory additional penalty. While the manslaughter charge itself only carries an 18-month sentence and a $5,000 fine, the enhancement necessitates a minimum five-year jail sentence.
“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,” New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
In addition to Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed’s charges, assistant director David Halls will plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. He faces a suspended prison sentence and six months of probation, prosecutors said.
“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 Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the DA to the case. “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.”
In a statement issued on behalf of the Hutchins family, attorney Brian J. Panish of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP praised the decision to file 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 killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life,” Panish said. “Our independent investigation also supports that charges are warranted. It is a 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.”
In a statement to TMZ, Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said the decision to charge “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” the statement said. “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.”
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