Alec Baldwin Is Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in “Rust” Fatal Shooting

From a Wall Street Journal story by Katherine Sayre headlined “Alec Baldwin Is Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in ‘Rust’ Fatal Shooting”:

Prosecutors filed involuntary manslaughter charges Tuesday against Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the movie “Rust” in New Mexico, according to court records.

Santa Fe-area District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies also filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the film’s armorer who handled guns on the set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

The shooting occurred in October of 2021 on the set of the low-budget Western outside Santa Fe. During preparations for a scene, Mr. Baldwin discharged a live round from a revolver, killing 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins. The film’s director, Joel Souza, was wounded.

Mr. Baldwin pointed a gun at the cinematographer and the director despite knowing the first rule of gun safety is to never point a gun at someone, investigators said in a probable-cause statement filed Tuesday with a New Mexico First Judicial District court. He also failed to perform safety checks of the gun with Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, according to the court filing.

“This reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol directly caused the fatal shooting,” said Robert Schilling, a special investigator for the district attorney’s office, said in the statement.

David Halls, the film’s first assistant director who handed the gun to Mr. Baldwin, has agreed to plead no contest to the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to his lawyer.

“Today we have taken another important step in securing justice for Halyna Hutchins,” Ms. Carmack-Altwies said. “In New Mexico, no one is above the law and justice will be served.”

A judge will rule on whether there is probable cause for the charges to move forward.

Luke Nikas, Mr. Baldwin’s lawyer, said when the charges were announced that Mr. Baldwin had no reason to think there was a live bullet in the gun or anywhere on the film set. Mr. Nikas said the actor will fight the charges. A spokeswoman for Mr. Nikas declined to comment on Tuesday.

In the probable-cause statement, investigators said the scene being rehearsed didn’t require the weapon to be fired. Investigators said expert armorers they consulted with said that in a rehearsal—where blanks don’t need to be fired—a plastic or replica gun should be used.

Investigators said in court filings that Ms. Gutierrez-Reed repeatedly violated established safety policies and procedures for using firearms in films, including by leaving the rehearsal area when the gun was being used.

Jason Bowles, a lawyer for Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, said Tuesday that the court filings show that the district attorney misunderstood the facts and reached the wrong conclusions.

“Hannah pleaded to provide more firearms training,” Mr. Bowles said. “She was denied and brushed aside. Hannah asked to be able to perform her armor duties more for safety reasons. She was told by production to focus on props.”

She also asked Mr. Halls if they could use a plastic gun for the rehearsal, which Mr. Halls rejected, and Mr. Halls ignored her request to be called back into the rehearsal if Mr. Baldwin was going to use the gun, Mr. Bowles said.

Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Gutierrez-Reed won’t be arrested and have agreed to be served summons in the cases, according to the district attorney’s office. The next step will be for Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Gutierrez-Reed to have what is known as a first appearance in court, similar to an arraignment, and it likely will be conducted virtually, according to prosecutors. First appearances generally happen within 15 days of charges being filed, prosecutors said.

Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Gutierrez-Reed were charged Tuesday with two different counts of involuntary manslaughter. One charge carries a punishment of up to 18 months in prison. The second charge, involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, includes a firearms enhancement which carries a mandatory five-year prison term.

Prosecutors have said Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Gutierrez-Reed are being “charged in the alternative,” meaning if the cases went to trial, a jury would decide not only whether they were guilty, but under which of the two manslaughter charges.

Mr. Baldwin has insisted he didn’t pull the trigger of the revolver when the gun discharged. Ms. Carmack-Altwies has said a Federal Bureau of Investigation analysis of the gun shows the trigger was pulled, which she said will be a key piece of evidence in the case.

The gun analysis showed that the revolver didn’t malfunction, and only pressing the trigger could have caused it to discharge, according to court filings.

Katherine Sayre is a reporter covering the gambling industry in The Wall Street Journal’s entertainment bureau in Los Angeles.

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