Santa Fe prosecutors on Tuesday filed two counts of involuntary manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin for fatally shooting on the set of the movie Rust.
They claimed the actor was not properly trained to handle the gun that ultimately killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s gunsmith, was also charged with the same two counts of involuntary manslaughter. David Halls, the assistant director of “Rust” who also had a hand in handling the gun that killed Hutchins, signed a plea deal that suspended his sentence and granted him six months probation.
“Today we took another important step to bring justice to Halyna Hutchins,” said Mary Carmack-Altwies, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney. “In New Mexico, no one is above the law and justice is done.”
Baldwin’s attorneys did not immediately comment.
Baldwin was “distracted and constantly talking to his family on his cellphone” during a more than hour-long firearms training session, according to a statement of likely cause filed in conjunction with the charges. Because of Baldwin’s distractions, the prosecutor said the training he received was estimated at 30 minutes.
In addition to starring in the film, Baldwin was one of the producers, blaming him for following safety protocols and hiring Gutierrez-Reed despite her lack of qualifications.
“Baldwin, by act or omission or omission to act in his position as producer, during a very short period of time, directly contributed and/or failed to mitigate reckless and dangerous acts,” alleges the Attorney’s Office, which alleges that at least a dozen “negligent acts or omissions” occurred on the day of shooting alone.
According to the probable cause statement, Baldwin “has publicly claimed that he is an ‘…expert…’ in the field of firearms and filmmaking”.
“Reed knew Baldwin needed more training,” which “could have prevented the fatal shooting,” the prosecutor said, citing a statement Gutierrez-Reed made in her testimony.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, a half-dozen members of the film crew left the set hours before filming began to protest what they saw as harsh and unsafe working conditions.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys pushed back the probable cause statement, saying the prosecutor “completely misunderstood the facts” and “reached the wrong conclusions.” They also said she was “rejected and brushed aside” when she asked to offer more firearms training.
“She was told by the production to focus on props. Hannah asked Halls if they could send us a plastic gun for the rehearsal scene and he said no because he wanted a ‘real gun’. Hannah asked to be called back to the church if Baldwin even used the gun, and Halls didn’t,” attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion said in a statement.
“Nevertheless, the District Attorney has issued Halls with a 6-month suspended sentence and charged Hannah and Baldwin with felonies that carry a minimum of 5 years in prison. The tragedy is that if Hannah had just been called back to the church by Halls, she would have played the inspection and prevented this tragedy,” they added.
Authorities announced earlier this month that they would be filing criminal charges in the case.
Documents filed in connection with the charges say that in October 2021, Baldwin had not been properly trained to use the gun that killed Hutchins and injured Joel Souza, the film’s director.
Evidence from the Santa Fe prosecutor’s office also alleges that Gutierrez-Reed was not qualified to play the gunsmith for the film because she had not held “certification or certifiable training or a union card” for the practice, and that she admitted that She was Armorer for only one film prior to this production.”
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed both face two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Both are felonies punishable by a $5,000 fine, but one carries an 18-month prison sentence while the other carries a five-year sentence.
The two were charged under a standard called alternative charges, meaning a jury will decide which of the two counts of manslaughter applies.