In the “Rust” shooting, Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter after his gun went off and killed the film’s cinematographer. Manslaughter charges are also pending against the armorer on set who is in charge of weapons.
Alec Baldwin has been fighting back against claims that he was to blame for the death of a cinematographer on the set of “Rust,” a low-budget western he was filming on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He told detectives that he had been assured that the gun he was practicing with that day did not contain live ammunition, sat down for a lengthy interview on television, sought indemnification from financial liability in the case, and then sued crew members on the
But on Thursday, prosecutors said they would charge him with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for killing Halyna Hutchins, a 42-year-old cinematographer. They said they thought he had a responsibility to make sure the revolver was safe to handle.
Andrea Reeb, a special prosecutor appointed by Santa Fe County’s district attorney to assist with the case, stated in an interview, “We’re trying to definitely make it clear that everybody’s equal under the law, including A-list actors like Alec Baldwin.” Additionally, we want to ensure that the film industry’s safety is addressed and that similar incidents do not occur again.
In addition, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, who was in charge of weapons on the set and loaded the gun that day, will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Dave Halls, the film’s first assistant director, gave Mr. Baldwin the gun and accepted a plea deal for negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Many in the film industry were surprised by Mr. Baldwin’s criminal charges, which his legal team strongly refuted. Luke Nikas, Mr. Baldwin’s attorney, said that the decision by the prosecutors “distorts Halyna Hutchins’s tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
Mr. Nikas said in a statement on Thursday that Mr. Baldwin “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set.” He put his trust in the professionals he worked with, who assured him that the gun did not have any live rounds in it. We will prevail in our fight against these charges.
The film, television, and radio workers’ union, SAG-AFTRA, said in a statement that Ms. Hutchins’ death was “preventable” but “not a failure of duty or a criminal act on the part of any performer.”
The union stated, “The prosecutor’s contention that an actor has a duty to ensure the mechanical and functional operation of a firearm on a production set is wrong and uninformed.” It is not the job of an actor to be an expert on firearms.
Mr. Baldwin, 64, has been a household name for decades as a leading man in Hollywood, as a TV star who played Jack Donaghy in “30 Rock,” as the voice of the New York Philharmonic on radio, as a co-host of the Oscars, and as the former President of the United States Donald J. Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
He has been under scrutiny for a long time for his off-screen behavior, which has included encounters with photographers, an arrest in 2018 for riding his bicycle the wrong way on Fifth Avenue, a parking space dispute, and social media fights.
But he has never been in a situation like this one.
Mr. Baldwin had attempted to strike a delicate balance ever since the shooting: publicly claiming his innocence in an effort to safeguard his career and reputation while avoiding legal action.
When he made an appearance on national television, he stated that he had been informed that the gun did not contain any live ammunition and that he was only acting in accordance with instructions when he pointed it at the cinematographer. In the interview, he stated, “I can’t say who is responsible for what happened, but I know it’s not me.”
According to a police report, he had privately complained to a detective that “nobody wants to work with you anymore — nobody” if his name became associated with something.
To the dismay of his neighbors, approximately two dozen reporters and photographers set up camp on the sidewalk outside his Manhattan apartment once word of the charges spread.
A jury would choose between the two charges of manslaughter if it found Mr. Baldwin or Ms. Gutierrez-Reed guilty. A firearm enhancement and a mandatory five-year sentence are included in the more severe option; The other charge carries a maximum 18-month prison term.
Mr. Baldwin’s criminal charges will undoubtedly bring up issues of safety on film sets and who is responsible. In an interview, Mary Carmack-Altwies, the Santa Fe County district attorney, stated that Mr. Baldwin had a responsibility to ensure that the gun and the ammunition were checked appropriately and that he should never have pointed it at anyone. She stated, “You should not point a gun at someone you are unwilling to shoot.” That relates to fundamental safety guidelines.
Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer who loaded the gun that day and was in charge of the weapons on set, admitted to investigators that she had checked the gun and all six cartridges, but she also said, “I wish I would’ve checked it more.”
Jason Bowles, one of her attorneys, stated that his client was not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and called the case’s investigation “flawed.”
A small set designed to resemble a church was used for the shooting on October 21, 2021, which also resulted in Joel Souza, the film’s director, being injured. According to court papers, Mr. Halls, the film’s first assistant director, 63, took the revolver from a gray, two-tiered tray set up by Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, 25, and handed it to Mr. Baldwin, calling out “cold gun” to indicate that it did not contain live ammunition.