SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Actor Alec Baldwin and a weapons specialist are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of a cameraman killed on a New Mexico movie set, prosecutors announced Thursday, citing a “criminal disregard for safety. ”

What you need to know

  • Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being injured during rehearsals for the movie “Rest” on a farm on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 21, 2021
  • Baldwin pointed a gun at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.
  • Baldwin attempted to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun handed to him on set.
  • In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins during rehearsal for a scene, he pointed the gun in her direction and backed off and released the gun’s hammer, causing

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies issued a statement announcing the charges against Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who oversaw guns on the set of the western’s “Rust.”

Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being injured during rehearsals on a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 21, 2021. Baldwin pointed a gun at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and injuring the director, Joel Souza.

Deputy Director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, has signed an agreement to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon, the district attorney’s office said.

The decision to sue Baldwin marked a stunning fall for an A-list actor whose 40-year career has included the early blockbuster “The Hunt for Red October” and a starring role in the sitcom “30 Rock,” as well as iconic performances in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and a movie adaptation of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” In recent years, he was known for his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”

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Involuntary manslaughter can include a murder that occurs while a defendant is doing something lawful but dangerous and acting negligently or carelessly.

The charge is a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law. The indictment also includes a provision that could lead to a mandatory five-year prison sentence because the crime was committed with a firearm.

Carmack-Altwies said charges will be filed at the end of January and Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will be subpoenaed to appear in court. She said prosecutors will forego a grand jury and rely on a judge to determine if there is probable cause to go to trial.

Andrea Reeb, a special prosecutor in the case, called a “pattern of criminal disregard for safety” on the film set.

“If one of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls – did their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” said Reeb, also a newly sworn-in Republican state legislator.

Baldwin’s lawyer said the allegations represented “a terrible miscarriage of justice”.

The actor “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the film set. He relied on the professionals he worked with, who assured him the gun had no live cartridges. We will fight these charges, and we will win,” Luke Nikas said in a statement.

A lawyer for Gutierrez Reed said the allegations were “the result of a deeply flawed investigation and a misunderstanding of the full facts.”

“We intend to expose the full truth and believe that Hannah will be acquitted of wrongdoing by a jury,” said Jason Bowles.

It was unclear when Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would appear in state court in Santa Fe once the charges are filed. Defendants can participate remotely in some initial court proceedings or ask to waive their initial appearance.

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Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death, described “a degree of neglect” on the film set. But he left decisions about possible criminal charges to prosecutors after presenting the results of a years-long investigation in October. That report did not specify how live ammunition ended up on the film set.

Baldwin described the murder as a “tragic accident”.

He attempted to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and delivering the loaded gun handed to him. Baldwin, also a co-producer of “Rust,” said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins during rehearsal for a scene, he pointed the gun in her direction and backed off, releasing the gun’s hammer, which went off.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator determined the shooting was accidental after completing an autopsy and review of law enforcement reports.

New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has imposed the maximum fine on Rust Movie Productions based on a damning story of safety errors, including testimony that production executives took limited or no action to remove two misfires of live ammunition on set prior to shooting. grab .

Regulators say production managers on set did not follow standard industry protocols for gun safety. Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the $137,000 fine.

The gunsmith who oversaw the firearms on set, Gutierrez Reed, has been the subject of much of the investigation in the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. An attorney for Gutierrez Reed has said she did not put a live bullet in the gun that killed Hutchins, and she believes she was a victim of sabotage. Authorities said they found no evidence of that.

Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition on the movie set on the outskirts of Santa Fe — a mix of blanks, dummy rounds, and what appeared to be live rounds. Industry experts have said live rounds should never be on set.

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Hutchins’ family – widower Matthew Hutchins and son Andros – settled a lawsuit against producers under an agreement that aims to resume filming with Matthew Hutchins as executive producer.

In a statement from their lawyer, family members thanked authorities for seeking the charges. “It’s a comfort to the family that no one in New Mexico is above the law,” they said.

The Screen Actors Guild said guns are provided to actors by knowledgeable professionals who are “directly responsible” for safety.

“The prosecution’s claim that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is false and uninformed. It is not an actor’s job to be a firearms or weapons expert,” the union said in a statement.

Criminal charges have rarely been filed in connection with deaths on movie sets.

A North Carolina prosecutor cited negligence as a factor, but decided against charges for the 1993 death of Brandon Lee while filming a scene in the movie “The Crow.” The son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee was hit by a .44-caliber bullet from a rifle that allegedly fired a blank.

More recently, film director Randall Miller pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal misdemeanor in the death of assistant cameraman Sarah Jones, who was hit by a train during the 2014 filming of “Midnight Rider” in rural Georgia. The production was not allowed to be on the train tracks and Miller was serving half of a two-year prison sentence.

Hutchins’ death has already impacted negotiations on safety features in union film crews’ contracts with Hollywood producers. The shooting also spurred other filmmakers to minimize risk by using computer-generated footage of gunfire instead of real guns with blank ammunition.

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