Over a year after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the set of Rust, lead actor Alec Baldwin and its armorerHannah Gutierrez-Reed will be charged with manslaughter by the New Mexico district attorney in connection to the tragic accident.
Baldwin, who fired the gun that killed Hutchins, and Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for loading the weapon and ensuring that it would discharge safely, will both face two counts of manslaughter for the death of Hutchins. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine for each count. They could also face five years in jail with a firearm enhancement. It will be up to a jury to decide what definition of manslaughter the incident falls under.
Additionally, Rust's assistant director David Halls has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon and agreed to serve six months probation in lieu of any jail time, according to the DA's statement. However, no charges will be filed in connection to director Joel Souza, who suffered nonfatal injuries in the incident.
“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,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said in a statement. “It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas responded to the charges in a statement, writing, “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’s tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. 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.”
The decision to push criminal charges comes after the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office handed in their findings to New Mexico's district attorney in late October. In the investigation of the incident, Baldwin claimed that Halls had told him that the weapon was "cold" and only contained dummy rounds but in fact contained a live round that fatally struck Hutchins in the torso and Souza in the shoulder. Hutchins would later be pronounced dead at a nearby hospital in Albuquerque.
“We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life,” the attorney for Hutchins' family, Brain Panish, said. “Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted. 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 has previously filed a civil suit against Halls and Gutierrez-Reed, accusing them of being responsible for Hutchins' death by ignoring several complaints about on-set gun safety made by members of the crew in the days leading up to the incident. Halls would in turn countersue Baldwin and others crew members, pointing the blame right back at them in December 2022. Hutchins' husband reached a settlement last year in his wrongful death lawsuit against the producers of Rust, which named him as an executive producer as part of the agreement. Filming is said to resume this month.
Photo via Getty/Barbara Nitke/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank
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