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Alec Baldwin plans to fight charges in "Rust" shooting: "We will win," attorney says

Alec Baldwin faces charges in "Rust" shooting
Alec Baldwin faces charges after "Rust" film set fatal shooting 07:43

Alec Baldwin is being charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deadly shooting on the set of the film "Rust" in 2021, but his lawyer said the actor plans to "fight" the charges. 

"Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set," his attorney Luke Nikas said. "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." 

While filming "Rust," a Western that Baldwin was starring in and producing, in New Mexico, Baldwin, 64, was holding a gun and rehearsing a scene when the weapon discharged, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza was injured. 

After a lengthy investigation, New Mexico district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement on Thursday that Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer who oversaw firearms on the set, were each being charged with two counts involuntary manslaughter.

"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. "On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."

Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded when a gun held by actor Alec Baldwin went off on the set of "Rust" on October 21, 2021. Getty Images / AP

The charges will be filed by the end of January, and Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be issued a summons to appear in court, Carmack-Altwies said in the statement. Prosecutors will forgo a grand jury, and judge will determine if there is probable cause to move toward trial, the statement reads.

In a statement to CBS News, Nikas said the decision "distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice."

Involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed each face up to a year and a half in jail and a $5,000 fine. Because the offense was committed with a gun, the charges also include a provision that could result in a mandatory five years in prison.

In a statement following the announcement of the charges, Gutierrez-Reed's attorneys said she didn't commit involuntary manslaughter and called the shooting a "tragic accident."

Bodycamera footage released in April by the Santa Fe Sheriff's Office shows Baldwin holding the gun before the incident, and Hutchins and Souza on the ground surrounded by first responders after they were shot. The video also shows Baldwin telling two officers that he did not pull the trigger. He is also seen telling the officers he didn't know who put a live round in the weapon. 

In addition to the criminal investigation, several lawsuits related to the shooting were filed. 

In November 2022, Baldwin sued Gutierrez-Reed and several other crew members for negligence. In the lawsuit, Baldwin alleges that he was not responsible for the set's safety, and he did not know there were live rounds in the gun.

Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit with slain cinematographer's family 01:55

The suit alleges Gutierrez-Reed "failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully" and assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, "failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin."

The suit also alleges prop master Sarah Zachry "failed to disclose that Gutierrez-Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her." 

Baldwin "did not know and had no reason to know any of these facts," the suit reads.

Hutchins' family had sued Baldwin and the movie's producers for wrongful death. The suit was settled in October 2022. 

Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed and Halls were also sued for alleged negligence by dozens of crew members.

Gutierrez-Reed sued the ammunition and guns supplier for the movie, accusing him and his company of providing a combination of dummy and live rounds.

Gutierrez-Reed and the ammunition supplier have both faced scrutiny in the case. An attorney for Gutierrez-Reed has said the armorer didn't put a live round in the gun that killed Hutchins, and believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they've found no evidence of that.

In addition to announcing the charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, Carmack-Altwies said that Halls reached a plea agreement for a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. Under the agreement, the assistant director will serve a suspended sentence and six months of probation. 

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