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Manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin dropped

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin Copyright Invision/AP
Copyright Invision/AP
By Katy Dartford with AP
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Prosecutors alluded to new revelations in the investigation and cautioned that Baldwin has not been absolved.

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Involuntary manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin for the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer on the set of Rust, have been dropped.

Prosecutors have alluded to new revelations in the investigation while cautioning that Baldwin has not been absolved. The development comes less than two weeks before a trial was set to begin.

An involuntary manslaughter charge against Hannah Gutierrez Reed, weapons supervisor on the film, remains unchanged. An online status hearing was scheduled for Friday in the state District Court for both defendants.

“New facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis,” the prosecutors said on Thursday in a news release, without elaborating on those facts. “This decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled. Our follow-up investigation will remain active and ongoing.”

The decision is a sharp turnaround for the Emmy-award-winning actor who just a few months ago was confronting the possibility of a multi-year prison sentence.

“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident," defence attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement.

In an Instagram post after the announcement was made, Baldwin thanked his lawyer and his wife, Hilaria Baldwin.

Baldwin was pointing a pistol at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal when it went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

He said the gun fired accidentally and he did not pull the trigger. An FBI forensic report found the weapon could not have fired unless the trigger was pulled, however.

The dismissal of the charge against Baldwin, also a coproducer on Rust, abruptly changes the tenor of the investigation, said John Day, a Santa Fe-based criminal defence attorney who is not involved with the case.

“It does give the impression that the people left holding the bag are the lowest people on that chain,” Day said. 

When word of the dismissal came, Baldwin was at Yellowstone Film Ranch on the set of a rebooted Rust production. Preparations for filming were underway Thursday at its new location in Montana, 18 months after the shooting shut it down.

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