Prosecutors announced Thursday that actor Alec Baldwin and a weapons specialist will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer who was killed in 2021 on a New Mexico movie set.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies issued a statement announcing the charges against Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who supervised weapons on the set.
Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals for the Western “Rust” at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe in October 2021. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.
Authorities said assistant director David Halls has signed a plea agreement for the charge of "negligent use" of a deadly weapon.
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 potential criminal charges to prosecutors after delivering the results of a year-long investigation in October. That report did not specify how live ammunition wound up on the film set.
Baldwin - known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” - has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”
He sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun that was handed to him on the set. Baldwin, also a co-producer on “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 pulled back and released the hammer of the weapon, which discharged.
New Mexico’s Office of the Medical Investigator determined the shooting was an accident following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports.
New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau have levied the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions, based on a scathing narrative of safety failures, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires of blank ammunition on the set prior to the fatal shooting.
Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the basis of a fine of more than €260,000 ($137,000) by regulators who say production managers on the set failed to follow standard industry protocols for firearms safety.
The armourer who oversaw firearms on the set, Gutierrez Reed, has been the subject of much of the scrutiny in the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. An attorney for Gutierrez Reed has said she did not put a live round in the gun that killed Hutchins, and she believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they have found no evidence of that.
Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition at 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.
For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.