Alec Baldwin Rust Shooting Manslaughter Charges Filed, Evidence – Deadline
Alec Baldwin and Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed did not follow safety procedures said the formal filing today in New Mexico of two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on October 21, 2021.
Just filed, the dense document also contends that the gun that killed Hutchins was not properly inspected, that ongoing safety issues on the set were not addressed, that Baldwin neglected to take required training, and that the veteran actor directly pointed a gun at someone on set – something that is never supposed to happen.
As promised by First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies’ office yesterday, the long-awaited official charges against the duo over the tragedy, that also saw director Joel Souza injured, were placed in the state court docket in Santa Fe this afternoon. The filing, plus information on the plea agreement Rust 1st assistant director David Hill made with the D.A., follows the January 19 announcement that multiple Emmy winner Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would be charged and could face up to five years in New Mexico prison if found guilty.
Though Rust star/producer Baldwin has repeatedly insisted he did not pull the trigger while pointing the 1880s prop gun at director of photography Hutchins during a rehearsal on the indie Western, evidence and analysis from the local Sherriff’s office and the FBI contained in a 551-page report made public on November 18 strongly suggests otherwise. “With the hammer at full cock, the revolver could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional,” the police probe said.
Along with labor issues on the $7 million budget flick, that investigation also cited various “negligent discharges” on set even before the shooting of Hutchins, as well as finding five more rounds of live ammunition on the set. How that ammo got there and in the gun that was in Baldwin’s hand remains a mystery, and is destined to be a focal point of the forthcoming trial.
However, in a case that has been far from straightforward from the beginning when the weapon went off on the Bonanza Creek Ranch location outside Santa Fe over a year ago, getting a conviction and what that verdict could be is thorny. Besides finding responsibility in the accident itself, the D.A. has said that she intends to allow the jury to pick between the two involuntary manslaughter charges.
Under the law of the Land of Enchantment, the first charge has lighter consequences as a fourth-degree felony, with sentencing of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The second charge, which is an involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act charge, also is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5000 fine on the books. However, the second charge carries a firearm enhancement in addition. That transforms the offense to a punishing mandatory five years in state prison if the defendants are found guilty.
Earlier this month, lawyesr for Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed relatively inexperienced armorer G-Reed called the D.A.’s decision to go for criminal charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice” and the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts,” respectively. After the D.A. said she and would be filing criminal charges, SAG-AFTRA came out on January 19 to call the claims against Guild member Baldwin wrong and uninformed.” The more than 116,000-member strong union added: “The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragedy, and all the more so because of its preventable nature. It is not a failure of duty or a criminal act on the part of any performer.”
Amidst a torrent of lawsuits from Rust crew members and even Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed themselves over what happened that terrible day in 2021, today’s filing of the criminal charges come almost a year after the production was fined the maximum of around $137,000 by New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau for “willful and serious” violation of workplace safety procedures on the film.
Blunting a potential legal leg-hold trap, Baldwin and Rust producers reached a settlement with the Hutchins Estate on October 5, 2022, ending the wrongful death suit brought forth in mid-February against the production and its star.
Under that deal, the cinematographer’s husband Matthew Hutchins was set to become an executive producer on the resurrected Rust movie, which was tentatively scheduled to start reshooting early in 2023. While the production has been scouting locations in California, such as Simi Valley, insurance issues were sure to bedevil the film, and thereby stop it from restarting.
After much congratulations all round last year, the tone of that settlement with the Hutchins family also altered when the D.A. made public her intention to seek criminal charges in the case.
“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,” said Hutchins family attorney Brian J. Panish on January 19. Our independent investigation also supports 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.”
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