Involuntary manslaughter charges will be filed Tuesday in New Mexico against the actor/producerand the gunsmith in the film “Rust” emerging from cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ on-set shoot in 2021.
New Mexico’s premier court attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, announced earlier this month that Baldwin, 64, and “Rust” gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed would be charged with manslaughter and manslaughter in the commission of a crime. lawful act.
Prosecutors said the couple will be charged “alternatively,” meaning it will be up to a jury to decide what level of manslaughter they allegedly committed in the Oct. 21, 2021 shooting.
Carmack-Altwies will formally file charges in New Mexico on Tuesday, as well as a plea deal reached with the film’s assistant director, David Halls, who will admit to one count of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The agreement requires that he receive a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
No court appearances have yet been scheduled for Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, who have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the shooting, which occurred inside a church building on the set of the western film “Rust” near Santa Fe. .
Baldwin fired the fatal shot with a prop pistol while helping Hutchins, 42, and director Joel Souza set up camera angles for a scene. The actor, who was also a producer on the film, insisted that he was told the gun was “cold” or did not contain real bullets. He has also insisted that although he removed the firing pin from the weapon, he never pulled the trigger.
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, previously called the charges “a terrible judicial error.”
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun, or anywhere on the film set,” Nikas said. “He trusted the professionals he worked with, who assured him the gun had no live bullets. We will fight these charges and we will win.”
Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers have also denied that he did anything wrong, even suggesting at one point that others on set tried to “sabotage” the production by mixing live rounds with blank spaces.
“Hannah is, and always has been, very emotional and saddened by this tragic accident,” attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion said in a joint statement earlier this month. “But she did not commit manslaughter. These charges are the result of a seriously flawed investigation and an inaccurate understanding of all the facts. We intend to expose the full truth and we believe that Hannah will be exonerated by a jury.”
Following an occupational safety investigation into the shooting that led to a fine against the producer, attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed said the investigation determined that she “did not receive adequate time or resources to perform her job effectively.”
They also noted that the film’s producers “did not call on Hannah to perform her gunsmith duties and inspect the firearm just prior to its use in the improvised scene with Baldwin. As we have said before, if someone from the production had called Hannah to the church before the scene to consult with her, this tragedy would have been avoided.
According to Carmack-Altweis’s office, there will be no public appearances Tuesday along with the criminal filings, but various court documents will be made public, including charging documents and the statement of probable cause supporting the charges.
“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 in a statement. statement in mid-January announcing the expected charges. “On my watch, no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”
The manslaughter charges carry a possible sentence of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The charge of manslaughter in commission of a lawful act will include an enhanced sentence for use of a firearm, making that charge punishable by up to five years in prison.
“If any of these three people, Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls, had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor’s appointee for the case’s prosecutor. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for security on the ‘Rust’ set. In New Mexico, there is no place for film sets that do not take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
The shooting led to a series of lawsuits against the film’s producers, including Baldwin, and a series of countersuits.
Baldwin himself filed a lawsuit against Halls, prop master Sarah Zachry, and Seth Kenney and their company, PDQ Arm & Prop, which supplied prop weapons and ammunition to the production.
The film’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, sued Baldwin and other crew members, claiming she was suffering emotional distress due to her proximity to the shooting. She was standing over Hutchins when he shot himself.
Halls, in turn, sued Baldwin, Zachry, Kenney, and Gutierrez-Reed.
Hutchins’ husband and son filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the film company, saying the production was plagued with security issues, citing messages and emails circulating among crew members. A provisional settlement of the lawsuit was reached late last year for an undisclosed amount. The deal includes a provision that allowed production on the film to resume this year.
On the morning of Hutchins’ death, “the safety hazards of the production had reached a critical point,” according to the 29-page lawsuit. “Members of the local camera crew were so upset by the producers’ complete disregard for…security that they protested the security conditions with a strike.”
The lawsuit alleged that Baldwin and the film’s producers had ignored at least 15 “industry standards” for gun safety on set. The “totality of the evidence is just overwhelming,” attorney Brian Panish said at the time.
Last year, the state of New Mexico announced a nearly $140,000 fine against the film’s production company for the shooting. The state Office of Occupational Safety and Health determined that firearms safety procedures were not being followed on set and concluded that the producers showed “simple disregard for employee safety.”
“Our investigation found that this tragic incident would never have occurred if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed the national motion picture industry standards for firearms safety,” said New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. , in a statement when the fine was announced. “This is a complete failure by the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”
Sheriff’s investigators determined that live ammunition was found on the set, mixed with blanks traditionally used in film production.
Hutchins’ death sparked calls across the industry to improve safety on set, particularly with regards to the use of firearms.
–City news service