Actor Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on the New Mexico set of “Rust,” according to the New York Times. The former “SNL” actor has maintained his innocence since the shooting occurred while he was rehearsing a scene with a firearm between takes.
Hutchins’ death sparked a year-long criminal investigation into Baldwin and other “Rust” crew members and resulted in several civil lawsuits filed against Baldwin, including a wrongful death claim filed by Hutchins’ family, and claims for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm filed by the film’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Alec Baldwin returned to filmmaking in March 2022, working on two Christmas movies co-starring his brother, William Baldwin, People reported. In a May 2022 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, “Rust” producer Anjul Nigam said he and co-producer Baldwin planned to finish shooting “Rust.” A day after New Mexico authorities announced the charges, the New York Times reported that the movie is still on track to be completed, with Souza returning as director.
Here’s what you need to know:
New Mexico D.A. Says ‘No One is Above the Law’ in Statement
New Mexico prosecutors announced on January 19, 2023, that Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the movie’s armorer who oversaw gun safety on the set, will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, with charges to be formally filed by the end of the month. In addition, the New York Times reported, Dave Halls, the film’s first assistant director who handed Baldwin the gun, plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon in exchange for a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
According to Deadline, New Mexico District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement, “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. On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
The first charge, per Deadline, is a fourth-degree felony with a possible $5,000 fine and up to 18 months in jail. The second, which the outlet said is an “involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act” charge, is also a fourth-degree felony with the same potential consequences — up to 18 months behind bars and a $5000 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, “This was a really fast and loose set, and … nobody was doing their job. There were three people, that if they had done their job that day, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened — and that’s David Halls and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and Alec Baldwin. If they had just done their basic duties, we wouldn’t be standing here.”
Alec Baldwin’s Attorney Issues Statement: ‘We Will Fight These Charges’
In a statement provided to NBC News, Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas said the actor maintains his innocence and will fight the charges.
“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents 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 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.”
The defense lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles, said his client is also not responsible for Hutchins’ death.
“Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident,” Bowles said in a statement to NBC News. “But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter. These charges 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 Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.”
Carmack-Altwies said regardless of whether the shooting was an accident, criminal charges are justified.
“Just because it is an accident doesn’t mean that it’s not criminal,” the prosecutor told CNN. “They didn’t have the intent to kill, but it happened anyway — and it happened because of more than mere negligence, because they didn’t exercise due caution or circumspection.”
Hutchins, who was 42 at the time of her death, was survived by her husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their nine-year-old son, Aldous.
According to NBC News, an attorney for the family, Brian Panish, also issued a statement, thanking authorities for their “thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted.”
In October 2022, CNN reported that Hutchins’ family reached an undisclosed settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and crew members on the set of “Rust.”
While an anonymous source told the New York Times that filming on “Rust” will continue with on-set safety supervisors, it is not clear what will happen with Baldwin’s current filmmaking projects, including the two hybrid live-action/animated Christmas films he co-produced and starred in with his brother William, entitled “Kid Santa” and “Billie’s Magic World.” In an August 2022 interview with CNN, Baldwin said he’d “lost five jobs” in the months after the shooting.