Alec Baldwin will be criminally charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust. New Mexico prosecutors confirmed the news today, Fox News is reporting.
The Emmy-winning star of 30 Rock will be charged with shooting the bullet that killed the cinematographer. However, Baldwin insists that didn’t pull the trigger in the incident. But an FBI forensic report reveals that despite his denial, the gun could not have gone off without the actor pulling the trigger.
In response to the announcement, Baldwin’s attorney called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice.” He has also described Hutchins’ death as a “tragic accident.”
One of the actor’s attorneys, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, also said: “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death. 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.”
But the cinematographer’s family disagreed with the sentiment of Baldwin’s legal team. Her relatives thanked the sheriff’s office and the DA after the charges were announced.
“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 a statement issued on behalf of the Hutchins family via attorney Brian J. Panish, the founding partner of Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP.
“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,” Panish’s statement added.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced the charges this morning, more than a year after the cinematographer’s death.
“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 in a statement. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
If Baldwin is convicted, he will face up to 18 months in prison. “Involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico is a Class D felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison,” former Assistant U.S. Attorney Neama Rahmani told Fox News Digital. “If Baldwin is convicted, I can see him being sentenced at or near the max.”
“Baldwin has a strong defense case, and I can see him pushing the case to trial for legal and public relations reasons,” he continued. “He has to think about his acting career in addition to doing time. But if he rolls the dice and loses at trial, the judge may hammer him for causing Hutchins’ death.”
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who served as the armorer on the movie, was also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors will have to prove there was underlying negligence on the set by the armorer and Baldwin, prosecutors said.
With the charges being a fourth-degree felony, Gutierrez-Reed also faces a sentence of up to 18 months in jail. She and the actor may also have to pay a $5,000 fine.
The second charge the duo face is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act. The charge, which is more severe, requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death, prosecutors said. This charge includes a firearm enhancement, which adds a mandatory penalty of five years in jail.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys, Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion, called the investigation “very flawed” in a statement they released today. “Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter,” they said.
Rust‘s assistant director, Dave Halls, signed a plea agreement for a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The terms of his agreement included a suspended sentence and six months of probation, the district attorney announced.
Hall admitted less than a week after the shooting that he had not properly checked the gun for safety before handing it to Gutierrez Reed, who passed it along to Baldwin for the scene.
The district attorney also shared that the actor and the armorer were “charged in the alternative.” This means a jury will decide not only if the two are guilty, but will also which definition of involuntary manslaughter their actions fall under.
“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 to the case, 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,” Reeb added.
Before announcing the decision, the district attorney’s office spent time reviewing a comprehensive report submitted by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. Adan Mendoza, who serves as Santa Fe County’s Sheriff, led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death. He described “a degree of neglect” on the movie set.
But Mendoza left decisions about potential criminal charges to prosecutors after delivering the results of a year-long investigation in October. That report didn’t specify how live ammunition wound up on the film set.
Halyna died when a gun Baldwin was holding fired while practicing a scene on October 21, 2021. The group had been rehearsing in a small church on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set. Guiterrez-Reed and Halls were the only other crew members believed to have handled the gun that was fired on set.
Halls allegedly handed Baldwin a .45 revolver and told him that it was “cold,” meaning that it was safe to use. Prior to that, Guiterrez-Reed spun the cylinder to show the assistant director what was in the gun, Bowles said.
“Never in a million years did Hannah think that live rounds could have been in the ‘dummy’ round box,” her lawyer said in a statement that was shared with Fox News shortly after the fatal accident. “Who put those in there and why is the central question.”
But Carmack-Altwies is stil prosecuting the case, and named Baldwin specifically in her request for emergency funding. The DA explained that she anticipated prosecuting up to four individuals, possibly including the actor.
“The Rust prosecution could potentially be prosecutions from one (1) to four (4) defendants,” Carmack-Altwies wrote in paperwork filed for an emergency grant. “One of the possible defendants is well-known movie actor Alec Baldwin.”
A wrongful death lawsuit was also filed against the actor and other key members of the production on February 15, 2022.
The lawsuit named Baldwin and others who “are responsible for the safety on the set.” It also noted that “reckless behavior and cost-cutting” that led to the death of Hutchins, according to the family’s lawyer.
The attorneys for the cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, interviewed witnesses before filing and created a video compiling evidence for the wrongful death lawsuit. In the video shared at a press conference, the lawyers reiterated claims from crew members that the Rust set was unsafe. The lawsuit claimed that Baldwin, who was also a producer on the film, and other crew and cast committed “major breaches” of safety on the set.
The cinematographer’s family sued for punitive damages and funeral and burial expenses among other things originally to be determined at trial. However, on October 5, the filmmaker’s husband announced the civil lawsuit had been settled pending court approval.
Following the conclusion of the civil lawsuit, Matthew revealed that filming of Rust would continue this month. However, it won’t return to New Mexico, where his late wife’s death occurred.
“The production of Rust will not return to New Mexico,” Melina Spadone, attorney for Rust Movie Productions LLC, also told Fox News Digital. “The production is considering other locations, including in California, but no decisions have been made.”
Although it hasn’t been confirmed whether Baldwin will re-join the production, Matthew’s initial announcement claimed the production would resume with “original principal players.”
The actor has sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun that was handed to him on set. In his lawsuit, he said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins during a rehearsal, he pointed the gun in her direction at her instruction. He then pulled back and released the hammer of the gun, which discharged.
Carmack-Altwies and Reeb said they’ll file charges with New Mexico’s First Judicial District Court by the end of the month. After that, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be formally arraigned and the judge will decide if the case moves forward to trial.
While Hutchins was fatally shot during the scene, Rust‘s director, Joel Souza, was injured by the bullet but later recovered. No charges were filed in the helmer’s non-fatal shooting.