Alec Baldwin, armorer to be charged with involuntary manslaughter

Alec Baldwin, armorer will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in Rust shooting

Actor Alec Baldwin at a news conference in 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

The Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office said it is charging movie actor Alec Baldwin and an armorer with involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 shooting on the movie set of “Rust” that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and director Joel Souza wounded.

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced the pending charges against Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on Thursday morning.

She said the movie’s assistant director, Dave Halls, has pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon and the terms include “a suspended sentence and six months of probation.”

“On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice,” Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. She said charges will be filed against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed by the end of the month.

Baldwin’s attorney said the charges represented “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

The actor “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,” Luke Nikas said in a statement.

An attorney for Gutierrez-Reed said the charges were “the result of a very flawed investigation and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts.”

“We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury,” Jason Bowles said.

It was a little over a year ago that New Mexico was thrust into the international spotlight when Baldwin discharged a real bullet from a Colt .45 during the filming of the Western “Rust,” striking Hutchins, 42, and Souza.

Baldwin was practicing a cross draw in an old church on the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set near Santa Fe at the time. Hutchins was airlifted to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Deputies responding to the Oct. 21 shooting learned armorer Gutierrez-Reed loaded the gun from a box containing both dummy and live ammunition. Halls declared the firearm “cold,” meaning unloaded, before handing it to Baldwin.

“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,” Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the DA, said in a statement. “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.”

Halyna Hutchins was killed on the set of “Rust” in October 2021. (Courtesy of Isaiah Fortajada/IMDB)

In all, deputies say they found five live rounds scattered around the set, including one mixed with dummy rounds in an ammo box that they found Gutierrez-Reed’s fingerprints on. Seth Kenney, owner of PDQ Arm & Prop in Albuquerque, supplied weapons for “Rust” and reportedly told deputies he may have given live ammunition to Gutierrez-Reed.

In her statement, Carmack-Altwies 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 were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty.”

She said for an involuntary manslaughter charge to be proved, there must be underlying negligence. Carmack-Altwies said the other possibility is a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act, which “requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death.”

Both charges are fourth-degree felonies punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000, but the latter includes a firearm enhancement, she said, which makes the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.

The lengthy investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also brought to light that the deadly shooting was preceded by multiple misfires and safety violations on the “Rust” set.

In April, the state Environment Department fined the production company $136,793 for its failure to “keep employees safe.” The production company has appealed the case and a hearing is set for April.

The incident also spurred several lawsuits, including from Hutchins’ family, Baldwin himself, Gutierrez-Reed and other crew members. Hutchins’ family announced a settlement late last year and announced filming of “Rust” would resume in January and that Halyna’s widower, Matt Hutchins, would serve as an executive producer.

Since the incident occurred many have floated the idea of sabotage, including Baldwin in private messages to Hutchins’ widower and by an attorney for Gutierrez-Reed during a media tour.

Carmack-Altwies said after the charges are filed, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be issued a summons and required to make a “first appearance” in court, which could be done virtually and even waived. Carmack-Altwies said the next step will be a preliminary hearing in which the case is presented to a judge, who will then rule whether there is probable cause to move forward with a trial.

“There is a very clear process for pursuing justice in this case,” Carmack-Altwies said. “We are committed to upholding the integrity of that process to ensure equal justice under the law.”

She said once charges are filed, more detailed paperwork will be available in court records that “details the evidence the DA and the special prosecutor cite.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

 

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