Alec Baldwin formally charged in "Rust" shooting with involuntary manslaughter
Actor and producer Alec Baldwin was formally charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter in the deadly 2021 shooting on the set of his Western movie "Rust" in New Mexico, according to court documents. Similar charges were formally filed against the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced she'd be bringing the charges earlier this month following a lengthy investigation into the death of the movie's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, on the film's set in October 2021. Baldwin was holding a gun during a rehearsal when it discharged, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
In a probable cause statement prosecutors filed with the court Tuesday, an investigator working for the prosecution claimed that Baldwin failed to address "multiple significant safety violations" on the set and noted that training in basic firearms safety rules was made available to Baldwin.
"The evidence clearly indicates that Baldwin recklessly ignored these rules, on multiple occasions, resulting in the fatal shooting," the statement said.
"Rust" assistant director David Halls has signed a plea agreement for a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, the district attorney's office announced earlier this month. Halls is expected to serve a suspended sentence and six months of probation. The plea agreement won't be released until it's approved by a judge, the district attorney's office said Tuesday.
On the day of the shooting, Oct. 21, 2021, the investigator alleges in the probable cause statement that, after a lunch break, Gutierrez-Reed retrieved Baldwin's gun from a prop truck safe and didn't perform a safety check of the weapon. According to the statement, the industry standard is for the armorer to check each round in a gun and show them to the assistant director and the actor.
Gutierrez-Reed handed Baldwin's gun to Halls and, contrary to standard requirements, did not remain on set and allowed Halls to take the gun unsupervised, according to the statement.
"The evidence is consistent that Reed failed to show Halls each dummy round and pull them out for safety, nor did Halls request it," the statement said. "Reed did not show Baldwin the loaded firearm either."
After the charges were filed, Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys said in a statement that their client had asked to be called back into the church if Baldwin was going to use the gun.
"The tragedy of this is had Hannah just been called back into the church by Halls, she would have performed the inspection and prevented this tragedy," attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion said in their statement.
Authorities also found two "negligent discharge" incidents had happened on the set sometime before the shooting, according to the statement.
In one incident, the film's prop master, Sarah Zachary, was handling a revolver that wasn't Baldwin's. According to the statement, she was holding the weapon and "manipulating" it while walking and she discharged a blank cartridge into the ground.
In another incident, a stunt double discharged a period rifle that was loaded and left with the performer unattended, according to the statement. The document didn't identify the stunt double.
When the charges were initially announced, Baldwin's attorney, Luke Nikas, called them "a terrible miscarriage of justice." The actor previously told ABC News he didn't pull the gun's trigger before it discharged.
In the probable cause statement, the investigator said an FBI analysis found the weapon couldn't fire without the trigger being pressed. Also, according to the statement, photos and videos from the day of the shooting show Baldwin "with his finger inside of the trigger guard and on the trigger, while manipulating the hammer and while drawing, pointing, and holstering the revolver."
Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys said she didn't commit involuntary manslaughter and called the shooting a "tragic accident."
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are expected to each be issued a summons now that charges have been filed, the district attorney's office said. They'll then be given a date for their initial court appearance, which can be done virtually.
After the initial appearance, a preliminary hearing would then be held before a judge, who will assess the prosecutors' case and decide whether the case can go to trial. Such hearings are usually held within 60 days of charges being filed, according to the district attorney's office.
When the charges were announced, CBS News legal contributor Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said it was possible the case may not go to a jury. "At every step along the way … if there is a plea deal on the table, Alec Baldwin can consider a plea deal," she said.
No charges were expected to be filed stemming from the shooting of Souza.
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