(Jan 19): A New Mexico prosecutor on Thursday said she would charge actor Alec Baldwin and others in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the filming of Western "Rust."
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced involuntary manslaughter charges against the "30 Rock" actor and the film's armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed after more than a year of investigation into the October 2021 shooting on a film set outside Santa Fe.
Assistant director David Halls has signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, the prosecutor said in a statement.
Baldwin attorneys Aaron Dyer and Luke Nikas did not immediately respond to voicemails requesting comment.
“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. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
Hutchins was killed when a revolver Baldwin was rehearsing with during filming in New Mexico fired a live round that hit her and movie director Joel Souza, who survived.
Prosecutors must prove in court that on-set firearm safety began with Gutierrez Reed, who was in charge of all weapons on the production; applied to Halls, who checked the weapon and handed it to Baldwin, then extended to the actor.
Involuntary manslaughter is considered an unintentional killing and carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison in New Mexico and a US$5,000 fine.
Baldwin has denied responsibility for Hutchins' death and said live rounds should never have been allowed onto the set of the low-budget movie. Baldwin said he was told the gun was "cold," an industry term meaning it is safe to use.
In a 2021 television interview, the actor told ABC News he did not pull the trigger of the replica Pietta .45-caliber long Colt revolver and it fired after he cocked it while rehearsing camera angles with Hutchins.
An FBI forensic test of the single-action revolver found it "functioned normally" and would not fire without the trigger being pulled.
The investigation into Hutchins' death focused on how live rounds got onto a movie set and how they were loaded into a firearm.
Carmack-Altwies last year hired a special prosecutor and received US$318,000 in state funds to pursue what she believed would be high-profile, costly jury trials should charges be filed.
“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,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed to the case.
New Mexico's worker safety agency in April fined the film's production company US$137,000 the maximum amount possible for what it described as "willful" safety lapses leading to Hutchin's death.
The agency found Rust Move Productions LLC knew firearm safety procedures were not being followed and showed "plain indifference" to the hazards.