Alec Baldwin, “Rust” Armorer Will Face Manslaughter Charges in Fatal Shooting

The actor and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for weapons on the film set, could each face up to 18 months in prison
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Alec Baldwin and the armorer working on the troubled New Mexico set of the western film Rust will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of Halyna Hutchins in 2021.

The Emmy-winning actor, a father of 7, and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the then-24-year-old rookie armorer who was responsible for weapons on the set, will both be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, which could send each to prison for up to 18 months, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced on Thursday morning.

“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.”

Rust Assistant Director David Halls made a plea deal with prosecutors and has been charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon; in doing so, Halls will avoid jail; terms in the deal include a suspended sentence and six months of probation.

Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, released a scathing statement criticizing the DA’s announcement on Thursday.

“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Nikas wrote. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun—or anywhere on the movie set. 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.”

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’s grave at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Photo by Michele McPhee

No charges were filed for the non-fatal shooting of Rust director Joel Souza, who was struck by the bullet that hurtled through Hutchins’ body. At the time of the Oct. 21, 2021 incident, Baldwin was rehearsing with a prop gun that had been somehow loaded with live ammo for a scene set inside a church when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding Souza. Detectives also recovered live ammo on the film’s set.

An FBI report concludes the prop gun, a replica of a vintage Pietta Colt .45, “functioned normally when tested in the laboratory.” The report also notes that, in order for the revolver to fire, the trigger needed to be pulled, which contradicts Baldwin’s statements to investigators that the prop gun misfired.

Prosecutors said Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative” with the two counts of manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they are innocent or guilty, but if the latter, will choose which definition of involuntary manslaughter they are guilty of. A special prosecutor assigned to the case, Andrea Reeb, said it was clear Rust producers, including Baldwin, did not make safety a priority on the set, and the haphazard handling of weapons showed “a pattern of criminal disregard for safety” during the shooting of the western.

“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,” Reeb said. The production company for Rust has paid a $136,793 penalty for the violation on set. This is the largest fine allowed in New Mexico for violating safety procedures.

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