Here’s what comes next.
Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins, who was shot dead on the set of Rust in 2021, prosecutors announced on January 19. The film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed will face the same charges.
Hutchins was killed when a prop gun Baldwin was holding discharged live ammunition and hit Hutchins in the chest. Director Joel Souza was hit in the shoulder. Baldwin has said that he was told the gun didn’t have live rounds in it, and claims that he never pulled the trigger. A medical examiner reportedly determined that Hutchins’ death was an accident, but prosecutors say that the “fast and loose” attitude to safety on set contributed to the shooting.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter, which will be formally filed at the end of the month, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told CNN. If convicted, each of them will only be sentenced to one count.
The counts carry different levels of punishment, with the less severe punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The more severe carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence because it has a firearms enhancement.
Prosecutors are “confident” they will secure a conviction
Because Baldwin was also a producer on Rust, prosecutors are claiming that he had an additional responsibility in that capacity to ensure that the gun was safe. They’ve stressed that just because a killing is unintentional, that doesn’t mean it isn’t criminal — and are reportedly optimistic that they will secure a conviction against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed.
“We felt very confident that it was going to be a criminal case pretty close to the beginning, once we started looking at everything,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said on January 19.
“I’m sure he was confident he wasn’t going to get charged. But he isn’t above the law and he is somebody who committed a crime, and we’re going to hold him to the law, hold him accountable,” she added.
Baldwin “had no reason” to believe there was a live bullet in that gun
Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas called the charges “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds,” Nikas said.
Speaking to ABC news in 2021, an emotional Baldwin told George Stephanopoulos that he “would never point a gun at anyone and then pull the trigger, never.” He said that a live bullet was never even meant to be on the set, and held back tears when talking about Hutchins.
“She was someone who was loved by everyone who worked with her, liked by everyone who worked with her – and admired,” Baldwin said, adding: “It doesn’t seem real to me.”