In a stunning turn of events, renowned actor Alec Baldwin faces a somber fate as he is officially charged with the involuntary manslaughter of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the highly anticipated film, “Rust.”
On Tuesday, officials broke the news that Baldwin must now answer to the court of law for his alleged role in this tragedy.
A damning document filed by prosecutors claimed Baldwin was distracted during firearms training, didn’t need to have a loaded gun during a rehearsal and made a “reckless deviation from known standards and practice” by firing the weapon, which had been accidentally loaded with a real bullet.
The “30 Rock” actor, 64, and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed – the movie’s armorer – were each hit with two felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, according to a complaint filed in New Mexico First Judicial Tuesday.
Hutchins – a 42-year-old married mother – was fatally shot in New Mexico on the film set on Oct. 21, 2021 when Baldwin fired a prop gun with a live round. Director Joel Souza, was also injured in the accident.
The Statement of Probable Cause by the Santa Fe County District attorney included various errors which led to the accident and made point to note Baldwin was the primary producer on the movie in addition to lead actor.
The probable cause statement said the shooting happened during an unscheduled rehearsal and did not require the weapon to be fired. It also said consultation with expert armorers said a plastic or replica gun should have been used in that setting.
The probable cause statement against Baldwin referred to the FBI’s previous analysis of the firearm, which “clearly showed that the weapon could not ‘accidentally fire,’” as the actor previously claimed.
The document also said that Baldwin failed to demand “at least two (2) safety checks between the armorer and himself” prior to the shooting.
the DA’s office noted that “if Baldwin had not pointed the gun at Hutchins and Souza, this tragedy would not have occurred.
“This reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol directly caused the fatal shooting,” in the document.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are both charged “in the alternative” – meaning a jury can only convict them of one of the two counts they face. The first count comes with a maximum sentence of 18 months behind bars, while the second carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed – a rookie armorer – have maintained their innocence while Assistant Director David Halls agreed to take a misdemeanor plea deal for handing the loaded gun 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,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said earlier this month in announcing the charges to come.
None of the defendants will be arrested nor do they need to appear in court Tuesday, a spokesperson with the DA’s office said.
They will need to appear before a judge – either in-person or by video – within 15 days of the charges being filed, the rep explained.
The case comes over a year after the incident and follows a thorough investigation – which revealed that Baldwin, Halls and Gutierrez-Reed all allegedly played a role in the tragedy.
Detectives in Sante Fe found a mixture of dummy and live rounds strewn about the set – in violation of industry safety standards.
Baldwin had been rehearsing a scene while Hutchins and Souza were behind the camera, when he drew the gun and fired one round that struck them both.
Baldwin claimed that he didn’t pull the trigger and that the gun instead fired accidentally – a claim that was later contradicted by an FBI forensic report finding that the trigger had to be released in order to go off.
Halls has conceded that he should have checked all of the rounds inside the firearm before handing it off to Baldwin.
Gutierrez-Reed told cops she checked the gun and ensured there were no live rounds. Still, she admitted to cops that the ammo hadn’t been properly put away and secured in the prop truck during a lunch break before the incident that day and instead was left on a cart on set.
In October, Baldwin settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Hutchins’ family for an undisclosed amount. As part of the settlement, Hutchins’ widower Matthew will receive an executive producer credit on the film.
In January 2021, Gutierrez-Reed filed suit against the props company claiming they sold live and blank rounds mixed together.
Baldwin’s wife Hilaria Baldwin said on her podcast Sunday – two days before the formal charges came out – that “It’s been an emotional time for my family.”
She thanked listeners telling them without their support, “we would crumble.”
Former federal prosecutor and current New York City lawyer Sarah Krissoff said the case will “be an uphill battle” for prosecutors to prove given “there isn’t a lot of precedent for charging this type of accidental death under an involuntary manslaughter statute.”
“While there may civil liability related to how the set was managed,” Krissoff said. “It’s harder to show that you’re going to have the level of recklessness needed to convict under the involuntary manslaughter statute.”
Krissoff said she thought it was unusual for prosecutors to announce that charges weeks ahead of their filing.
“Now the legal teams have extra time to prepare for the charges. That seemed very unusual to me,” she said.
And so many people involved “have already told their story multiple times,” so “the defense is going to have to shape their defense case around the statements that have already been made of their clients.”
But Krissoff said Baldwin will surely have a “stellar legal team” and his and Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers “are going to come out swinging” against the prosecution.