Crime & Justice

Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter over ‘Rust’ shooting

Los Angeles, US, Jan 31 (EFE).- Actor Alec Baldwin and a weapons specialist were formally charged on Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the filming of “Rust” in 2021.

New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack Altwies announced nearly two weeks ago that she intended to charge Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutiérrez-Reed, and on Tuesday she announced that her office had formally filed charges against the pair.

On Oct. 21, 2001, Baldwin was rehearsing a scene in a church on set and pointed a Colt .45 revolver at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin has claimed he did not pull the trigger.

A probable cause statement by Robert Shilling, a special investigator for the district attorney’s office, outlining evidence against Baldwin on Tuesday listed “many instances of extremely reckless acts or reckless failures to act” in the lead-up to the shooting, including that a plastic or replica gun should have been used for rehearsal as per industry standards.

The statement added that “photos and videos clearly show Baldwin, multiple times, with his finger inside of the trigger guard and on the trigger, while manipulating the hammer and while drawing, pointing, and holstering the revolver.”

Shilling said that analysis “clearly showed that the weapon could not ‘accidentally fire’; for the weapon to fire, the trigger had to have been depressed/pressed.”

In addition, Baldwin was not present for required firearms training prior to the commencement of filming, it said.

“A training session for at least an hour or more in length was scheduled, but the actual training consisted of only approximately 30 minutes as according to Reed, Baldwin was distracted and talking on his cell phone to his family during the training,” it said.

The statement also cited several safety check and protocol breaches as the gun was loaded and given to Baldwin.

Baldwin “allowed, through acts or omissions, the hiring of inexperienced and unqualified Reed for this production” and “had Baldwin performed the required safety checks with the armorer, Reed, this tragedy would not have occurred,” Shilling argued.

“Baldwin’s deviation from known standards, practice and protocol directly caused the fatal death of Hutchins,” the statement concluded. “By not receiving the required training on firearms, deviating from the required duties of checking the firearm with the armorer, letting the armorer leave the church against protocol, deviating from the practice of only accepting the firearm from the armorer, not dealing with safety complaints on the set, not making sure the protocol of safety meetings was occurring, putting his finger on the trigger of a real gun, not using a replica firearm for the unscheduled rehearsal, pointing the gun at Hutchins and Souza, and the overall handling of the firearm in a negligent manner, Baldwin acted with willful disregard of the safety of others and in a manner which endangered other people, specifically Hutchins and Souza.”

With regards to Gutierrez-Reed, a separate statement of probable cause by Shilling argues that her “deviation from known standards, practice and protocol directly caused the fatal death of Hutchins.”

“By not insisting Baldwin had the proper training, not checking the rounds she was loading into the firearms, not showing Halls or Baldwin each bullet before handing them the firearm, allowing live rounds on scene, not staying in the church with the firearm, allowing Baldwin to point the firearm at Hutchins, not voicing her concerns to management of her double duties as armorer and props assistant, allowing ammunition to not be secured, not making sure a rubber or replica gun was used in a rehearsal scene, and allowing Baldwin to handle a firearm in a negligent manner, Reed acted with willful disregard for the safety of others and in a manner which endangered other people, specifically Hutchins and Souza,” it said.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed intend to fight the charges in court, and if found guilty by jury trial, they could each face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine or five years in jail.

Their lawyers did not immediately comment on the charges.

Assistant director David Halls reportedly entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon and will serve six months’ probation.

It is still unclear how live ammunition made its way onto the film set.

In October, Hutchins’ widower Matthew Hutchins agreed to settle his family’s lawsuit against Baldwin and the production, which when completed would allow filming of “Rust” to resume. EFE


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