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Alec Baldwin is facing manslaughter charges for the fatal shooting of Rust.

Alec Baldwin is facing manslaughter charges for the fatal shooting of Rust.

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Actor-producer Alec Baldwin charged with manslaughter in 2021 fatal shooting on set of western movie ‘Rust’, New Mexico prosecutors announced Thursday. The gunman who supervised the firearms on the set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reid, is also charged with manslaughter.

Baldwin was holding a gun during a rehearsal when it fired, killing the cameraman Halina Hutchins.

“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,” said District Attorney Mary Carmack. Altwies said in a statement released Thursday morning. “In my day, no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”

Hutchins was shot and wounded while preparing for a scene at a ranch outside Santa Fe on October 21, 2021. Baldwin had pointed a gun at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are charged with two counts of first-degree manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to a year and a half in prison and a $5,000 fine. The charges also include a provision that could result in a mandatory five years in prison because the crime was committed with a gun.

Both charges stem from the shooting of Hutchins, Carmack-Althuis said. Manslaughter can include killing that occurs while the accused is doing something that is legal but dangerous and acts carelessly or without caution. No charges have been filed in the shooting of Souza.

CBS News legal contributor Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said it’s important to understand that Hutchins’ death was not intentional.

“We’re talking about a potentially legal action that you’re involved in, but you’ve been criminally negligent,” Levinson said. “So, for example, if you go shooting with friends and you don’t hold a gun properly and you don’t exercise due care and you should have known something dangerous could happen and you accidentally kill a friend, you can be charged with that, manslaughter.” “

Alec Baldwin charged with two counts of manslaughter in fatal ‘Rust’ shooting

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Carmack-Althuis said charges will be filed by the end of January and that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will receive summonses to appear in court. She said prosecutors will forego a grand jury and rely on a judge to determine whether there is probable cause to proceed to trial.

Levinson said the hearing will be a “very important” part of a long process. She also noted that it was possible the judge would dismiss one of the charges.

“Facing these allegations is serious,” Levinson said. “It’s going to be more serious … if we get past that initial threshold where the judge says, yes, either one or both of those manslaughter charges go forward.”

Carmack-Althuis said courts typically schedule such hearings within 60 days of charges being filed.

Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice.”

“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the set,” Nikas said. “He relied on the professionals he worked with who assured him that the gun did not have live ammunition. We will fight these charges and win.”

Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys said she did not commit manslaughter and called the shooting a “tragic accident.”

“These allegations are the result of a very flawed investigation and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts,” Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion said in a statement. “We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be acquitted by a jury.”

In addition to the charges, Carmack-Althuis announced a plea agreement with Assistant Principal David Halls to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. Under the agreement, Halls will serve a suspended sentence and six months of probation.

“If any of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halina Hutchins would be alive today,” Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, said in a statement. – It’s so simple.

Levinson noted that the case may not go to a jury. “Every step of the way … if there’s a plea deal on the table, Alec Baldwin can consider a plea deal,” she said.

A representative of Hutchins’ family – widower Matthew Hutchins and son Andros – thanked authorities for pursuing the charges.

“It is a comfort to the family that in New Mexico no one is above the law,” spokesman Brian Panish said in a statement. “We support the charges, we will fully cooperate with this prosecution and we sincerely hope that the justice system works to protect the public and bring those who break the law to justice.”

Start of the Sundance Film Festival
Director Halina Hutchins at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Matt Hayward/Getty Images

The family settled down case against the manufacturers under a deal that aims to resume filming with Matthew as an executive producer.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death, described “some degree of neglect” on the set. But he left decisions about potential criminal charges up to prosecutors afterward providing the results of a year-long investigation in October. This report does not specify how the live rounds ended up on the set.

Taking control of the investigation, Carmack-Althuis is granted permission urgent request for $300,000 the state to pay for a special prosecutor, a special investigator and other experts and personnel.

Baldwin — known for his roles on “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” — described Hutchins’ killing as “a tragic accident.”

He tried to clear his name through prosecute people involved in the handling and delivery of the loaded weapon which was given to him on the set. Baldwin, also a “Rust” co-producer, said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while he was working on camera angles with Hutchins during a rehearsal for a scene, he pointed the gun in her direction and pulled back and released the striker of the gun, which discharged.

New Mexico Office of the Medical Examiner determined that the shooting was an accident after an autopsy is completed and law enforcement reports are reviewed.

The New Mexico Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health imposed the maximum fine on Rust Movie Productions based on a scathing account of safety lapses, including testimony that production managers took little or no action to address two blank cartridge misfires on set before the fatal shooting.

Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the basis of a $137,000 fine from regulators who say production managers on set failed to follow standard industry protocols for firearms safety.

The gunsmith, Gutierrez Reed, was the subject of much of the scrutiny in the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. An attorney for Gutierrez Reed said the gunman did not put a live round in the gun that killed Hutchins and believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they found no evidence of that.

Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition on the set on the outskirts of Santa Fe – a mix of blanks, dummies and what appeared to be live rounds. Industry experts said live shows should never be staged.

In April 2022, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department released a set of files including lapel cam video of the mortally wounded Hutchins, falling and losing consciousness when an evacuation helicopter arrived. Witness interviews, emails, text conversations, ammunition inventories and hundreds of photographs round out the collection of evidence.

State workplace safety regulators said immediate gun safety concerns were resolved when filming on “Rust” was halted and that the return to filming in New Mexico would be accompanied by new safety checks.

“Rust” has been mired in controversy since its inception in early October 2021. Seven crew members walked off the set just hours before the fatal shooting amid disagreements over working conditions.

Hutchins’ death influenced negotiations over safety provisions in the film crew’s union contracts with Hollywood producers and encouraged other filmmakers to choose computer-generated images of gunfire instead of real guns with blank rounds to minimize the risks.

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