Pop Culture

Alec Baldwin officially charged for ‘reckless acts’ leading to shooting on ‘Rust’ set

Prosecutors have officially charged actor Alec Baldwin and a film set armourer with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust.

The Santa Fe’s District Attorney’s Office released a statement of probable cause on Tuesday outlining the charges — originally announced on Jan. 19 — against Baldwin, 64, and armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

In the document, prosecutors accused Baldwin of “many instances of extremely reckless acts” during the film’s production.

They wrote that Baldwin “was not present” for mandatory firearms training before filming began. He was instead provided on-set guidance but prosecutors allege he was “distracted and talking on his cell phone to his family.” The training session was scheduled for an hour but was only 30 minutes long due to Baldwin’s “distraction” on the phone.

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Prosecutors wrote that Baldwin’s lack of firearms training “does not comport to industry standards.” They argued that if Baldwin had performed mandatory safety checks before aiming the gun on set, Hutchins would not have been killed.

Baldwin has not yet commented on the official charges but previously said through his lawyer that he “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,” said Baldwin’s lawyer. “We will fight these charges, and we will win.”

Gutierrez-Reed has argued that she verified the gun fired by Baldwin was loaded with dummy rounds before she passed it off to Rust’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who then handed it to Baldwin. Lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed have also vowed to fight the charges, blaming Halls for not allowing her to use a plastic gun during the fatal rehearsal scene.

The prosecutor’s statement described several “acts or omissions of recklessness” on the set of Rust. This included foregoing the use of a prop gun during unscheduled rehearsals, willful ignorance toward on-set safety complaints and a lack of armourer-performed safety checks. The document also alleges Gutierrez-Reed left the Rust set against protocol.

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The charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed carry a potential sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a US$5,000 ($6,658) fine.

Halls, the assistant director, has also been charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon for handing Baldwin the loaded gun. He is expected to plead guilty.

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In October 2021, Hutchins was struck and killed by a gun shot by Baldwin that contained a “live round.” Rust writer and director Joel Souza was also injured in the incident.

The shooting occurred as Baldwin rehearsed with what he believed to be a safe gun, provided to him by Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for the guns on set. Baldwin has consistently denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death and said live rounds should never have been allowed onto the set. He claims he was unaware the gun was loaded when he fired.

In April, footage of Alec Baldwin just minutes after the deadly shooting was released by police.

In soundless rehearsal footage, Baldwin is seen quickly drawing and aiming an F.lli Pietta 45 Long Colt Revolver, the same gun that was later misfired. He is seen with his finger on the trigger.

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Baldwin, in a separate police video, confirmed to officers, “I was the one holding the gun.”

Later in August, Hutchins’ death was determined by New Mexico’s Office of the Medical Investigator to be an accident following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports.

In the fall, Baldwin reached a settlement with Hutchins’ estate. As part of the settlement, Matthew Hutchins became executive producer of Rust, which was set to begin filming again this month. It is unclear how the new charges will affect the movie’s plans to resume.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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