Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting on the set of Rust that killed choreographer Halyna Hutchins dead, prosecutors said on Thursday. Also, the film's armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was criminally charged in connection with the shooting that also left the film's director Joel Souza.
The charge comes more than a year after Baldwin unintentionally shot Hutchins on the set of Rust when a real bullet was loaded into a prop gun. Hutchins, 42, was hit in the chest and died within minutes. The film has since been shelved, with Baldwin facing severe backlash for showing no remorse for Hutchins' death. The incident happened in October 2021.
New Mexico prosecutors charged Baldwin and Hannah-Gutierrez with two federal counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Hutchins on Thursday. The charges were expected as the investigation proved that both Baldwin and Hannah-Gutierrez were negligent resulting in the tragedy.
"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," District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said.
"On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."
David Halls, the assistant director who gave the Emmy Winner the loaded gun as part of a plea agreement, accepted a misdemeanor charge in a plea deal.
The long-awaited decision to charge Baldwin and three others was made after a thorough investigation proved they all shared some of the blame for the shooting that killed married mom Halyna Hutchins and injured Joel Souza, 49.
"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.
According to the prosecution, each defendant will get a preliminary court hearing within 60 days to establish whether there is sufficient justification to hold a trial.
Carmack-Altwies stated "many individuals" on-set had handled the gun before the tragedy and might be held legally culpable, even though she earlier acknowledged Baldwin was accountable for firing the fatal gunshot.
Detectives from the Santa Fe Sheriff's Office claimed they found a mixture of fake and live bullets spread across the set during the initial inquiry, which is against industry safety regulations. At the time, Carmack-Altwies stated that "one of the most important factors going into a charging determination" will be determining how the live rounds got to the set.
Still in Denial
Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, a member of the crew in charge of the set's ammunition and weaponry, has categorically denied responsibility for the tragic incident. She filed a lawsuit in January against the company that provided the rounds, claiming they sold live and blanks jumbled together.
Baldwin was practicing a cross sketch while practicing in a mock church at the Bonanza Creek Ranch while Hutchins and Souza watched from behind the camera.
He brought out the gun as he practiced, pointed it directly at the camera, and fired one round that hit Hutchins and Souza.
Baldwin has insisted the pistol went off inadvertently on numerous occasions, but an FBI forensic assessment issued in August found that someone had to have pressed the trigger for the gun to go off.
Souza told police he recalled hearing the term "cold gun," which meant the gun wasn't loaded and was suitable for use while getting ready for the scene. However, he was unable to recall if the gun had been checked before being given to Baldwin.
David Halls, the assistant director, testified to investigators that he "should have checked" all of the rounds in the barrel after Gutirrez-Reed handed the rifle to him. Halls then handed the revolver to Baldwin.
"David advised when Hannah showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them, but didn't, and couldn't recall if she spun the drum," investigators mentioned in a search warrant affidavit filed last fall.
The armorer normally "spins the drum" and checks to make sure there are no live bullets before giving it over, Hall said when questioned about the safety procedures for using firearms on set.
"I check the barrel for obstructions, most of the time there's no live fire, [Hannah] opens the hatch and spins the drum, and I say cold gun on set," Halls told authorities.
The search warrant states that the weapons were locked up in the prop truck while the team took a break for lunch on the day of the shoot, but Gutierrez informed police that the ammo "was left on a cart on the set, not secured" during that time.
Hutchins' family sued Baldwin for wrongful death in February, claiming the actor was the "person holding the weapon" and was therefore to blame for the filmmaker's demise.
"I think it's clear what happened," Hutchins family lawyer Brian Panish said at a press conference in Los Angeles after the suit was filed.
"He had the gun, he says he pulled the hammer back, it fired, and she was killed. ... The experts will look at it and make any determinations, but we don't think this was caused by any defect in the weapon."
In October, the lawsuit was settled for an unspecified amount.