American actor Alec Baldwin to be charged in fatal movie set shooting
American actor and producer Alec Baldwin will be charged for the 2021 fatal shooting of a crew member on the set of his new movie "Rust," authorities said Thursday.
The 64-year-old Hollywood veteran on October 21, 2021, discharged a prop gun on the set of the movie in the US state of New Mexico's Santa Fe County, killing the movie's 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement that Baldwin and the movie's armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 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," Carmack-Altwies said in a statement, adding, "On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."
"Rust" is an American Western film based on a story created by Souza and Baldwin who also stars in. Baldwin is well known for his roles in "30 Rock," "Beetlejuice," "The Hunt for Red October" and his masterful impressions of former US President Donald Trump on comedy sketch TV show Saturday Night Live.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be "charged in the alternative" with the two counts of manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty, according to the statement.
The statement said the movie's assistant director David Halls has signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The terms include a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
"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 by the District Attorney to the case, noted in the statement, adding that the evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the film set.
The District Attorney's office will file charges with New Mexico's First Judicial District Court before the end of the month.
Brian Panish, the attorney for Hutchins' widower and son, issued a statement Thursday on behalf of the family expressing support for the charges, reported Variety, a top Hollywood trade publication.
Originally from Ukraine, Hutchins is a Los Angeles-based union cinematographer who graduated from the AFI conservatory in 2015 and has since established a track record of successful narrative features, according to her personal site.
Luke Nikas, Baldwin's attorney, said in a statement on Thursday that the decision "distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," according to the report.
The attorney added that Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun or anywhere on the movie set.