Prosecutors weigh options in fatal shooting of Alec Baldwin


A Santa Fe district attorney said the decision to file charges will be announced Thursday morning.

Actor Alec Baldwin attends a press conference at the United Nations headquarters on September 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe district attorney will announce Thursday whether to file charges in the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal for the western “Rust”.

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said the decision will be announced Thursday morning in a statement and on social media, with no public appearances by prosecutors.

“The announcement will be a solemn occasion, made in a way that upholds the office’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the judicial process and respecting the family of the victim,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being shot while setting up a scene at the ranch outside Santa Fe on October 21, 2021. Baldwin was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the gun went off , killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adán Mendoza, who led the initial investigation about Hutchins’ death, he described “a degree of neglect” on the film set. But he left decisions on possible criminal charges to prosecutors after delivering the results of a year-long investigation in October. That report did not specify how the live ammunition ended up on the film set.

Upon taking control of the investigation, Carmack-Altwies received an emergency request for $300,000 for the state to pay for a special prosecutor, a special investigator, and other experts and staff.

Baldwin, known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impersonation of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” described Hutchins’ murder as a “tragic accident.”

He has tried to clear his name by suing the people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun given to him on set. Baldwin, also a co-producer of “Rust,” said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins during a scene rehearsal, he pointed the gun in her direction and pulled back and released the firing pin on the gun, which fired.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator determined the shooting to be an accident after completing an autopsy and review of police reports.

The New Mexico Office of Occupational Safety and Health imposed the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions, based on a scathing narrative of safety lapses, including testimony that production managers took little or no action to address two lapses in firing blank ammunition on the set before the fatal shooting. .

Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the basis of a $137,000 fine by regulators who say on-set production managers failed to follow industry-standard protocols for firearms safety.

The gunsmith who supervised the firearms on set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, has been the subject of much scrutiny in the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. An attorney for Gutierrez Reed has said the gunsmith did not put a live bullet in the gun that killed Hutchins and she believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they have found no evidence of that.

Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition on the film set outside of Santa Fe, a mix of blanks, fake bullets and what appeared to be real bullets. Industry insiders have said that live rounds should never be on set.

In April 2022, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department released a large number of files including lapel camera video of the mortally wounded Hutchins falling unconscious as an evacuation helicopter arrived. Witness interrogations, email threads, text conversations, ammunition inventories, and hundreds of photographs completed that collection of evidence.

State workplace safety regulators said immediate gun safety concerns were addressed when “Rust” stopped filming, and that a return to filming in New Mexico would be accompanied by new safety inspections.

The Hutchins family, widower Matthew Hutchins and his son Andros, settled a lawsuit against the producers under a deal that aims to restart shooting with Matthew serving as executive producer.

“Rust” was plagued with disputes from its inception in early October 2021. Seven crew members left the set just hours before the fatal shooting amid contention over working conditions.

Hutchins’ death influenced negotiations over security provisions in film crew union contracts with Hollywood producers and encouraged other filmmakers to choose computer-generated gunshots over actual weapons with blank ammunition for minimize risks.

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