SANTA FE COUNTY, N.M. – Prosecutors on Thursday announced that they plan to pursue charges against actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed in connection with the 2021 shooting on the set of the movie “Rust.” Authorities said the film’s assistant director, David Halls, has also signed a plea agreement for one charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
The shooting on Oct. 21, 2021, claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured the film’s director, Joel Souza.
Gutierrez Reed attorney: Charges stem from ‘a very flawed investigation’
Update 12:35 p.m. EST Jan. 19: An attorney for Gutierrez Reed said the charges announced against his client on Thursday were “the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts,” according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press.
“We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury,” Jason Bowles said in the statement.
Baldwin attorney: ‘We will fight these charges, and we will win’
Update 12:25 p.m. EST Jan. 19: An attorney for Baldwin said the decision to file charges “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice” in a statement obtained by Axios.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set,” Luke Nikas said in a statement. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will be charged with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death, prosecutors announced Thursday.
DA: ‘Just because it’s an accident doesn’t mean that it’s not criminal’
Update 12:10 p.m. EST Jan. 19: Speaking to CNN, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies acknowledged that the “Rust” shooting did not appear to be intentional, however, she said, “Just because it’s an accident doesn’t mean that it’s not criminal.”
“They didn’t mean to do it, they didn’t have the intent to kill, but it happened anyway and it happened because of more than mere negligence,” Carmack-Altwies said, “because they didn’t exercise due caution.”
She described the set of “Rust” as “a really fast and loose set.”
“If (Baldwin, Gutierrez Reed and Halls) had just done their basic duties, we would be standing here,” she said.
Baldwin, Gutierrez Reed, Halls had ‘basic duty’ to check gun used in shooting, DA says
Update 12 p.m. EST Jan. 19: District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told CNN on Thursday that Baldwin, Gutierrez Reed and Halls had a “basic duty” to check the gun used on Oct. 21, 2021, before Baldwin shot and killed Hutchins, prompting criminal charges against the three.
Baldwin earlier claimed that the gun went off without him pulling the trigger and that Gutierrez Reed wrongfully put a live round in the gun rather than a blank one.
Carmack-Altwies said Thursday that Baldwin had to have pulled the trigger, pointing to an FBI forensic report that found the same. She said authorities might never know how the live round got into the gun. She added that the question was “not the point.”
“Three people should have been checking those projectiles and should have caught them,” she said.
Hutchins family: ‘We support the charges’
Update 11:45 a.m. EST Jan. 19: In a statement obtained by LawandCrime.com, the Hutchins family thanked authorities for investigating Halyna Hutchins’ death and finding that charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed are appropriate.
“Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted,” attorney Brian Panish said in the statement. “It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.”
Baldwin, Gutierrez Reed to be ‘charged in the alternative’
Update 11:25 a.m. EST Jan. 19: Prosecutors said no charges will be filed in connection with Souza’s injuries.
Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will be “charged in the alternative” with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death, according to a statement released by the district attorney for New Mexico’s first judicial district. The distinction means that if a jury finds Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter, it will also be tasked with determining which definition of the charge best fits the cases.
To prove involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors must show that there was underlying negligence. The charge is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail, officials said.
Jurors could also instead find Baldwin or Gutierrez Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, a charge appropriate when “more than simple negligence (was) involved in a death,” according to prosecutors. The charge carries the same maximum sentence.
Charges will be formally filed against Baldwin and Gutierrez by the end of the month, officials said.
Baldwin, Gutierrez Reed to be charged; Halls signs plea agreement
Update 11:10 a.m. EST Jan. 19: In a statement published Thursday, officials said Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Authorities said the film’s assistant director, David Halls, signed a plea agreement for one charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. As part of the agreement, Halls got a suspended sentence and six months of probation, officials said.
“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,” Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed to the case, said in a statement. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set.”
Original report: Mary Carmack-Altwies, district attorney for New Mexico’s first judicial district, and “Rust” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb will share the decision in a statement to be released at 9 a.m. local time.
“Regardless of the District Attorney’s decision, the announcement will be a solemn occasion, made in a manner keeping with the office’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the judicial process and respecting the victim’s family,” Heather Brewer, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, said Wednesday in a statement.
Authorities said actor Alec Baldwin was holding a gun on Oct. 21, 2021, while Hutchins was setting up a scene for “Rust,” when the gun went off. A bullet hit and killed Hutchins and injured the movie’s director, Joel Souza.
Baldwin has denied wrongdoing, calling the shooting a “tragic accident,” according to The Associated Press. The actor told CNN in August that the film’s armorer and props assistant, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, put a live round into the gun instead of a dummy or blank round. He also blamed the movie’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who handed him the gun, according to CNN.
In November, Baldwin sued Gutierrez Reed, Halls and others to “clear his name,” the AP reported. Both Gutierrez Reed and Halls have maintained that they were not at fault for the shooting and accused Baldwin of trying to deflect the blame onto others, according to CNN. Gutierrez Reed last year sued the company that supplied the guns and ammunition used on the set of “Rust” and the company’s owner, claiming they provided a box of ammunition that wrongfully contained at least one live round.
Baldwin claimed that the gun went off during a dress rehearsal for “Rust” and that he didn’t pull the trigger, ABC News reported. However, the FBI last year determined that the gun “could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger,” according to NPR.
Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza said there was “a degree of neglect” on the set of “Rust,” the AP reported. In April, New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau levied a nearly $137,000 fine against Rust Movie Productions LLC, saying in a report that management showed indifference despite knowing that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set.
In October, Hutchins’ family settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the movie’s producers, including Baldwin. At the time, Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, called his wife’s death a “terrible accident.”
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