Prosecutors planned to file felony charges of involuntary manslaughter Tuesday in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal on the set of a Western movie in 2021.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded at a film set ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in October 21, 2021. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the film’s director.
In recent weeks, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has outlined two sets of involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the shooting against Baldwin and film set weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
The district attorney said through a spokeswoman Monday that her office will release charging documents and a statement of probable cause outlining the evidence. Hutchins’ death already has led to new safety precautions in the film industry.
Involuntary manslaughter can involve a killing that happens while a defendant is doing something lawful but dangerous and is acting negligently or without caution. Special prosecutor Andrea Reeb has cited a pattern of “criminal disregard for safety” on the set of 'Rust'.
Prosecutors also said they will release the terms of a signed plea agreement with assistant director David Halls, who oversaw safety on the set. Participants in the un-filmed rehearsal have given conflicting accounts of who handed the gun to Baldwin.
Halls has agreed to plead guilty in the negligent use of a deadly weapon, they said.
Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said in a statement Monday that prosecutors are “fully focused on securing justice for Halyna Hutchins” and “the evidence and the facts speak for themselves.”
Baldwin, also a co-producer on “Rust,” has described the killing as a tragic accident. The 64-year-old actor said he was told the gun was safe and has sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded .45-caliber revolver.
In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins, he pointed the gun in her direction and pulled back and released the hammer of the weapon, which discharged.
Defense attorney Jason Bowles, who represents Gutierrez-Reed, said the charges are the result of a “flawed investigation” and an “inaccurate understanding of the full facts.”
Defendants can participate remotely in many initial court proceedings or seek to have their first appearance waived.
Involuntary manslaughter linked to negligence is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law. The second set of manslaughter charges allege recklessness with a provision that could result in a mandatory five years in prison because the offense was committed with a gun.
The decision to charge Baldwin marks a stunning turn of events for an A-list actor whose 40-year career included the early blockbuster 'The Hunt for Red October' and a starring role in the sitcom '30 Rock', as well as iconic appearances in Martin Scorsese’s 'The Departed' and a film adaptation of David Mamet’s 'Glengary Glen Ross'. In recent years, Baldwin was known for his impression of former President Donald Trump on 'Saturday Night Live'.