The New Mexico Attorney’s Office announced today that actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter on the set of ‘Rust’ in 2021, in which cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza injured, according to the New York Times. The film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who oversaw gun safety on set, is facing the same charges, which are due to be formally filed by the end of the month. In addition, according to the New York Times, Dave Halls, the film’s first assistant director, who presented Baldwin with the gun, pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon in exchange for a suspended sentence and six months’ probation. Here’s what you need to know:
Per Deadline, New Mexico District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies released a statement on January 19, 2023 regarding the findings of her department’s investigation.
She said, “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 bring criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew. Under my watch no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”
The first charge, per term, is a fourth-degree felony with a possible $5,000 fine and up to 18 months in prison. The second charge, which the outlet said was “involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act,” is also a fourth-degree felony with the same possible consequences — up to 18 months behind bars and a $5,000 fine — but because it involves a firearm, it escalates to a mandatory five years behind bars if Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are found guilty.
In an interview with CNN, Carmack-Altwies said, “That was a really quick and easy set, and … no one was doing their job.”
She added, “Every person who handles a gun has a duty to ensure that when handling that gun, they point it at someone and pull the trigger so they don’t fire a projectile and kill someone.”
The Hutchins family, including her husband Matthew Hutchins and their nine-year-old son Aldous, announced the announcement, according to NBC News, which reported that a family attorney, Brian Panish, had issued a statement appealing to authorities for their thanked “Thorough investigation and determination that involuntary manslaughter charges are warranted.”
Baldwin, 64, has maintained his innocence since the shooting, blaming CNN on crew members who recorded a live round in the prop cannon, which fired while he was practicing on set between takes.
In a statement to NBC News, Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said the actor has maintained his innocence and will be taking action against the charges.
“This decision distorts the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins and constitutes a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Nikas said. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the film set. He relied on the professionals he worked with to assure him the gun had no live rounds. We will fight these allegations and we will win.”
In addition, a defense attorney for Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles, said his client was not responsible for Hutchin’s death either.
“Hannah is and always has been very emotional and saddened by this tragic accident,” Bowles said in a statement to NBC News. “But she didn’t commit involuntary manslaughter. These allegations are 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 that Hannah will be acquitted of her wrongdoing by a jury.”
According to People, an attorney for Hall’s assistant director, Lisa Torracco, said in a statement that her client is not facing jail time and “is getting the matter over with.”
“Mr. Halls accepted a minor misdemeanor charge,” the statement said. “With no charges being brought at all, this is the best outcome for Mr. Halls and the case. He can put this matter behind him now and let that the focus of this tragedy is on the victims of the shooting and is changing the industry so that this type of accident will never happen again. His charge is a minor misdemeanor. No jail time. Unattended probation. $500 fine. Mr. Halls denies Mr .For handing a firearm to Baldwin.”