Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will face criminal charges for the October 21, 2021 fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, the Santa Fe District Attorney said this morning.
Close to 16 months after Baldwin took the life of Hutchins and wounded the movie’s director Joel Souza with a loaded gun on the set of indie western Rust, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies today has finally unveiled her decision as to who should be charged and not charged in the tragic incident.
“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 Thursday. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
Santa Fe D.A. To Reveal Decision On 'Rust' Charges Thursday; Alec Baldwin Fatally Shot 'Rust' Cinematographer In October 2021
In charges set to be formally filed by the end of the month, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death.
Heading towards a hearing before a state judge and then a jury trial, the first charge is a fourth-degree felony with sentencing of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The second charge, which is formally an involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act charge, is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5000 fine. However, the second charge additionally carries a firearm enhancement. That gives the offense a punishing mandatory five years behind bars if Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are found guilty.
Long a key figure in the events surrounding Hutchins’ death, Rust assistant director David Halls reached a plea agreement with prosecutors for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The industry vet faces a suspended sentence and six months of probation, the D.A.’s office said today. While Baldwin has in the past vowed to fight any charges, Halls’ plea deal and the cooperation he likely has had with prosecutors could become a major factor for the actor going forward.
“If any one 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,” stated Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor assigned to the case. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously,” Reeb added.
Over the months, while the Santa Fe Sheriff’s office put the final touches on its wide ranging investigation of the late 2021 shooting at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, the D.A. has been partially planting the seeds for today’s announcement.
An August 30 letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance from Carmack-Altwies revealed the D.A’s possible intentions to prosecute as many as four individuals with criminal and homicide charges related to Rust including “one of the possible defendants” being “well known movie actor Alec Baldwin.” In her ask, Carmack-Altwies was requesting $635,000 for the matter, but was only granted $317,750 by the state.
Much has happened around the Rust tragedy on-screen and in the courts, as many have waited on Carmack-Altwies’ decision.
In an ABC news interview with George Stephanopoulos in December 2021, Baldwin insisted he never actually pulled the trigger of the gun that took Hutchins’ life during a quick-draw rehearsal move in a church location on the set of Rust. Just minutes before the shots that killed Hutchins and wounded Souza, Baldwin was told by Assistant Director Dave Halls that the 1880s Colt prop weapon was a “cold gun, as many witnesses including Hall have asserted. Seemingly indifferent to his own tone, Baldwin also told the Good Morning America co-host in the now infamous sit-down, that he had been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that it’s highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally.”
Just a couple of weeks prior to the anniversary of the tragedy, Baldwin and Rust producers reach a settlement with the Hutchins Estate on October 5, 2022. Ending the wrongful death suit brought forth in mid-February against the production and the actor, who also served as a producer on the $7 million budgeted film.
Part of the agreement entailed the DP’s husband Matthew Hutchins becoming an executive producer on the resurrected Rust movie, which was scheduled to start reshooting this month. While the production has been scouting locations in California, such as Simi Valley, Deadline heard, no official word has been given about the western fully resuming production and where it would actually film. There is also no word if Rust has been able to get insured, a necessary requirement to make a movie.
At the time the deal with the Hutchins estate was made public, the Santa Fe-based District Attorney made sure that there was no perception this was all over. “The proposed settlement announced today in Matthew Hutchins’ wrongful death case against Rust movie producers, including Alec Baldwin, in the death of Halyna Hutchins will have no impact on District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis’ ongoing investigation or her ultimate decision whether to file criminal charges in the case,” her office said in a quickly issued statement.
Staying in the public eye over the last year, Baldwin was set to star in the spy movie Chief of Station, shooting in Budapest, however, the actor had to vacate the role over scheduling issues back on October 31.
As civil lawsuits and that wrongful death action from Hutchins’ family hit court dockets in New Mexico and California over the last year, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office in late 2022 finally made public the FBI assisted police report which detailed the calamities that ensued before the shooting of Hutchins on October. 21, 2021.
The raw 551-page report cast suspicion on Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, among others on what appeared to be an openly problematic set. Dolly grip Ross Addiego, for instance, claimed to police that the armorer and her crew had issues that involved “negligent discharges”. The armorer was preparing one of six guns and one of the revolvers went off toward her foot. A few minutes later at the cabin set, a discharged gun went off that wasn’t announced, which would have been assistant director Dave Halls’ responsibility to announce, per Addiego.
Besides the live round in the gun in Baldwin’s hand, the FBI found five more rounds of live ammo on the Rust set, the report detailed. Additionally, the report cast doubt on Baldwin’s assertion that he never pulled the trigger. “With the hammer at full cock, the revolver could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional,” the document stated.
The report also went into detail on other instance of guns going off on Rust.
Reese Price, a key grip, told authorities that “accidental discharge” twice during the course of one day on set. “One of the accidental discharges occurred by ‘armorer girl’ who was messing with a gun,” Price told authorities. Souza, in his interview with the cops, reported there wasn’t any negligence on the set, and didn’t believe the armorer intermingled live rounds with blanks.
While staying in the public eye over the last year, multi-Emmy winner Baldwin hasn’t been in front of the camera much professionally since the Rust shooting. Baldwin was set to star in the spy movie Chief of Station, shooting in Budapest, however, the actor had to vacate the role over scheduling issues back on October 31.
In that vein, in mid-November last year, Baldwin took on the role of plaintiff and hit Rust armorer Gutierrez Reed, first assistant director Halls, property master Sarah Zachry, and weapons and rounds supplier Seth Kenney and his company with a negligence lawsuit.
Filed in LA Superior Court, the action claimed that “Baldwin has also lost numerous job opportunities and associated income” because of what happened on Rust. “For example, he’s been fired from multiple jobs expressly because of the incident on Rust and has been passed over for other opportunities, which is a direct result of the negligence of Cross-Defendants Gutierrez-Reed, Halls, Kenney, PDQ, and Zachry,” stated the cross-complaint paperwork prepared by Quinn Emanuel attorney Luke Nikas for Baldwin.
Along with a much challenged but still enduring suit from Rust‘s script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, that matter remains before the California courts.
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