Actor Alec Baldwin has been officially charged with involuntary manslaughter, along with a weapon specialist following the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, according to court documents filed by prosecutors Tuesday.
Recall that Baldwin discharged a prop gun on the set of independent movie ‘Rust’ in October 2021, accidentally striking and killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza who survived.
On Tuesday, January 31, the 64-year-old and the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, were both charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act.
In a copy of the court documents, it was alleged that Baldwin knew the drill … ‘that the armourer should have been present, checking the gun to make sure it was safe
It was also alleged that he ‘relied’ on the assistant director who had no authority to clear the weapon for use.
Asides from also alleging that the armourer failed to undergo firearm training, it was also disclosed that there are multiple photos and videos that clearly show Baldwin with his finger on the trigger.
According to the statement of probable cause, Baldwin had only received minimal training on firearms even despite requests from Gutierrez-Reed.
‘Whether guided by (Hutchins) directions or not, Baldwin knew the first rule of gun safety is never point a gun at someone you don’t intend on shooting,’ the statement read.
‘In addition, always assume a gun is loaded. Had Baldwin performed the required safety checks with the armorer, Reed, this tragedy would not have occurred.
The Santa Fe DA said after failing to appear for mandatory firearms training, Baldwin was given a 30-minute on-set training session, during which he was distracted by talking to his family on the phone.
‘The on-set and limited time of training does not comport to industry standards and evidence shows Baldwin was in a position to manage, oversee, commence, and require safety training to industry standards,’ the probable cause statement read.
Baldwin’s failure to ensure minimum standards were met is considered reckless in the industry.
Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are now facing up to five years behind bars if convicted.
Special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb told journalists; ‘The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set.
In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our State’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.
‘If any one of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or (assistant director) David Halls – had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple.
Baldwin has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He claimed Halls told him it was a cold gun, meaning it was unloaded and safe, when he handed him the weapon.
Baldwin previously insisted he did not pull the trigger when Hutchins was shot, but the FBI tested the weapon and later issued a report, which concluded it would not have fired if someone hadn’t pulled the trigger.
Hutchins’s death was previously ruled an accident but her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and others involved in the production.
The lawsuit was settled last October, and it was agreed filming would resume on ‘Rust’, with the cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, on board as an executive producer.
Matthew had said he has ‘no interest’ in apportioning blame for his wife’s tragic death and wants to pay tribute to his late wife’s ‘final work’.
The manslaughter charge filed Tuesday against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed includes two alternative standards and sanctions.
One version would require proof of negligence, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law.
The second alternative is for reckless disregard of safety ‘without due caution and circumspection.’
It carries a higher threshold of wrongdoing and includes a ‘firearm enhancement’ that could result in a mandatory five years in prison because the offense was committed with a gun, AP reports.
It’s expected that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be issued a summons to appear in court. The prosecutors will rely on a judge, not a grand jury, to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to go ahead with a trial, a decision that could take up to 60 days.