20 Jan 2023

Actor Alec Baldwin to be charged over deadly shooting on Rust film set

7:39 am on 20 January 2023
PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 23: Alec Baldwin attends Sundance Institute's 'An Artist at the Table Presented by IMDbPro' at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2020 in Park City, Utah.   Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb/AFP

Alec Baldwin has not commented so far on the charge. Photo: AFP

Actor Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter over the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed on a film set when he fired a prop gun.

Baldwin had been rehearsing a scene for the Western film Rust when the shooting happened at a ranch near Sante Fe, New Mexico in October 2021.

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film's armourer, will also be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Neither have commented on the charges.

Locals and members of the local film community mourn the loss of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died after being shot by Alec Baldwin on the set of his movie Rust at a vigil in Albuquerque, New Mexico, US.

A vigil was held for Halyna Hutchins, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, shortly after her death. Photo: AFP / 2021 Anadolu Agency

On Thursday, Santa Fe's District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced in a statement that charges would be filed against the pair by the end of the month.

"Actor and producer Alec Baldwin and armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter," the statement read. "After a thorough review of the evidence... I have determined that there is sufficient evidence."

"On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice," she said.

According to a police report, David Halls, the assistant director who handed the gun to Baldwin, did not know it contained live rounds. Halls signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, Carmack-Altwies said in her statement. Gutierrez Reed had handled the gun before Halls.

Simple involuntary manslaughter for negligence is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $US5000 fine. Should prosecutors prove there was more than simple negligence involved in the use of a firearm, they could face a five-year jail term.

Baldwin has denied responsibility for Hutchins' death and said live rounds should never have been allowed onto the set of the low-budget movie. Halls told Baldwin the gun was "cold," an industry term meaning it is safe to use, according to police records. It remains unclear how live ammunition got on the set.

"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. We will fight these charges, and we will win," his attorney Luke Nikas said.

In a statement released on behalf of the Hutchins family, lawyer Brian Panish said their own investigation also found charges were warranted.

"It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law," the statement added. "We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law."

The family sued Baldwin in 2021 alleging the Emmy-winning 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live actor had a responsibility to check the gun did not contain live rounds, not point it at the cinematographer, and not cock the weapon and pull the trigger.

The family subsequently reached a settlement in which Matt Hutchins became an executive producer of Rust and production was set to resume early in 2023 outside New Mexico.

- BBC / Reuters

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