Baldwin to face criminal charges for ‘Rust’ shooting

Alec Baldwin speaks onstage at the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 06, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala)
Alec Baldwin speaks onstage at the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 06, 2022 in New York City. Photo credit (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala)
By , Audacy

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies of New Mexico announced Thursday that charges will be filed against Alec Baldwin for the fatal “Rust” film set shooting in October 2021.

During filming on the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, a bullet from a prop gun held by actor Baldwin struck 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died soon after the shooting. The bullet also struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder.

According to Carmack-Altwies’ announcement, Baldwin –an actor and producer of the film – and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Additionally, assistant director David Halls “has signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon,” and “the terms include a suspended sentence and six months of probation.”

A copy of the plea agreement will be available after it has been filed with the court, said Carmack-Altwies.

No charges are expected related to the shooting of Souza.

“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. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”

She explained that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty. The involuntary manslaughter charge would need to be proved by showing there was underlying negligence.

Under New Mexico law, this charge is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

“This charge also includes the misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a firearm, which would likely merge as a matter of law,” said Carmack-Altwies.

There is also another charge of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act.

“This charge requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death,” per the announcement. “This is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.”

That charge also includes a firearm enhancement because a firearm was involved. With the firearm enhancement, the crime is punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.

“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,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the DA 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.”

Carmack-Altwies said charges will be formally filed with New Mexico’s First Judicial District Court before the end of the month. After the charges are filed, each defendant will be issued a summons with the charging information and they will be required to make a “first appearance,” or arraignment.

This first appearance can be done virtually and in some cases is waived.

“Given that the First Judicial District in New Mexico is only impaneling grand juries under certain circumstances due to ongoing COVID restrictions, the next step after first appearance will be a preliminary hearing,” said the announcement. “In this process, a judge takes on the role of the grand jury.”

At that point, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor present their case to the judge, who then rules whether there is probable cause to move forward with a trial.

“There is a very clear process for pursuing justice in this case,” Carmack-Altwies said. “We are committed to upholding the integrity of that process to ensure equal justice under the law.”

More paperwork detailing the evidence in the case is expected to become available once charges have been formally filed.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala)