"Rust" movie set fatal shooting: A timeline of events as Alec Baldwin is charged with involuntary manslaughter
Actor and producer Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal 2021 shooting on the set of the Western film "Rust," court documents show.
During rehearsals for the film, Baldwin held the Colt gun that discharged a live round that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.
"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," District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement when announcing the charged would be filed. "On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."
Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer who oversaw firearms on the set, are each charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to a year and a half in jail and a $5,000 fine. The charges initially included a provision that could result in a mandatory five years in prison because the offense was committed with a gun, but that enhancement was later dropped.
Baldwin's lawyer said the actor plans to "fight" the charges following the announcement.
"Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set," 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."
Gutierrez-Reed's lawyers said after the charges were filed that "the district attorney has completely misunderstood the facts and has reached the wrong conclusions."
Below is a timeline of events following the shooting that led to criminal charges.
Oct. 21, 2021: Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins killed after Alec Baldwin's prop firearm discharges on set
Hutchins dies after being shot during setup for a scene in the western movie "Rust" at a filmset ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe.
Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.
Nov. 17, 2021: Script supervisor sues Baldwin and producers over shooting
Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor for "Rust," files a lawsuit over the fatal on-set shooting, claiming Baldwin and others involved with producing the film failed to keep the set safe.
According to the lawsuit, the film's producers and others repeatedly jeopardized the safety of the cast and crew by skimping on safety measures to cut costs.
The suit claims there had been two instances where guns had been misfired on set prior to the fatal shooting. The suit also claims that the gun used by Baldwin was "regularly left unattended" during filming, as was the cart storing ammunition, which would violate industry standards.
Dec. 3, 2021: Baldwin describes shooting during interview
Baldwin gives an emotional interview to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos where he skirted responsibility for the fatal shooting.
"Someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me," he said.
Baldwin told Stephanopoulos that he had no idea there was a live round in the gun, and said he didn't realize it had killed Hutchins and injured Souza until hours after the incident.
In the interview, Baldwin said that moments before the shooting, he and Hutchins were going over camera angles for a scene involving a gun inside of the church on set, and Hutchins was instructing him to point the gun in the area of her armpit.
Baldwin also said during the interview that when he was handed the gun he was told it was cold and that he was cocking the gun but not pulling the trigger as they rehearsed the scene.
Oct. 5, 2022: Baldwin announces settlement with Hutchins' family
Matthew Hutchins, Halyna's husband, and Baldwin announce an agreement to settle one of the civil cases stemming from the shooting. In a statement from his attorney, Hutchins said he would be named an executive producer of the film, which is set to resume filming "with all the original principal players on board."
"All of us believe Halyna's death was a terrible accident," Hutchins said. "I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna's final work."
In an Instagram post, Baldwin called the settlement a "resolution of this tragic and painful situation."
"Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna's son," Baldwin said in the post.
Oct. 27, 2022: Santa Fe Sheriff's Office submits its investigative findings to prosecutors
The Santa Fe Sheriff's Office submits its investigative findings to prosecutors in Hutchins' death.
Santa Fe Sheriff's Office spokesman Juan Ríos turned over the department's findings to a Santa Fe-based district attorney's office without setting forth any recommendations about possible criminal charges.
According to Ríos, the case file outlined all the evidence collected, including investigative interviews and forensic analysis of physical evidence by the FBI.
Nov. 11, 2022: Baldwin sues armorer and several other crew members involved in the "Rust" production for negligence
Baldwin files a lawsuit against several "Rust" crew members for negligence. The suit claims that the actor was not responsible for the set's safety, and he did not know there were live rounds in the gun.
The suit alleges that the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, "failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully;" assistant director David Halls "failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin;" and 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."
The suit also claims that Baldwin, a producer on the film, "did not know and had no reason to know any of these facts."
Jan. 19, 2023: Prosecutors announce Baldwin to be charged with involuntary manslaughter
Prosecutors announce that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for their role in Hutchins' death.
Jan. 31, 2023: Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed formally charged
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are each formally charged with involuntary manslaughter. A probable cause document alleges that Baldwin failed to address "multiple significant safety violations" on the set and noted that the actor failed to attend training in basic firearms safety rules, which had been 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.
The documents also allege that Gutierrez-Reed failed to perform standard safety procedures usually required on film sets, including showing each individual dummy round in the gun to both the assistant director and the actor using the weapon.
Feb. 20, 2023: Prosecutors drop firearms enhancement to charges
Prosecutors in New Mexico announced they were dropping a firearm enhancement from one of the manslaughter charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. Baldwin's attorneys had been fighting against the enhancement in court, arguing that prosecutors used a 2022 version of the law that didn't apply to the 2021 shooting.
With the firearm enhancement, Baldwin could have faced a mandatory five-year sentence.
Heather Brewer, a spokesperson for the district attorney in the case, said in a statement the decision to drop the enhancement was made "in order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys."
"We applaud the decision and it was the right call," Jason Bowles, an attorney for Gutierrez-Reed, said in a statement.
Feb. 23, 2023: Baldwin pleads not guilty on involuntary manslaughter charge
Baldwin pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge and waived his first court appearance, which had been scheduled for Feb. 24.
The judge who agreed to waive his hearing set several conditions for Baldwin's release, including prohibiting the actor from handling firearms and drinking alcohol. He has also been prohibited from discussing the shooting and any possible testimony with any potential witnesses. He is only allowed to have interactions with potential witnesses in order to complete the movie and other activities such as promotion.
March 14, 2023: Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb steps down
Rust special prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced she was stepping down Tuesday, March 14, saying in a statement that she did not want questions about her dual roles as a legislator and prosecutor to "cloud" the issues. Reeb was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in November 2022, and she assumed office in Jan. 2023.
Baldwin's legal team had filed a motion saying it was "unconstitutional" for her to participate in the case due to her elected position in the New Mexico House of Representatives, and asked for her to be disqualified. The Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies had called the objection a "novel theory that has no support in New Mexico statutes or case law," The Associated Press reported when the motion was filed. In her statement, however, Reed said, "it has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts."
Reeb was appointed by the district attorney as a special prosecutor for the investigations in August 2022. In an application for emergency grant prosecution funding, the district attorney said the office needed an experienced attorney that could devote their full time and attention to the case, according to the filed motion.
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