Baldwin charged for ‘reckless handling’ of gun in ‘Rust’ shooting

Actor Alec Baldwin in New York

Actor Alec Baldwin departs his home, as he will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie “Rust”, in New York, US, January 31, 2023. REUTERS/David ‘Dee’ Delgado

Actor Alec Baldwin and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Western movie “Rust” in New Mexico in 2021, according to court documents.

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies filed charges following months of speculation as to whether she had evidence that Baldwin showed criminal disregard for safety when a revolver with which he was rehearsing fired a live round that killed Hutchins.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were each charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The most serious charge – which carries a potential sentence of five years in jail – would require prosecutors to convince a jury Baldwin was not just negligent but reckless in his use of a firearm.

A probable cause statement accompanying the charges names Baldwin as both an actor and producer on the movie and says: “On the day of the shooting alone, evidence shows that no less than a dozen acts, or omissions of recklessness, occurred in the short time prior to lunch and the time of the shooting, and this does not include the reckless handling of the firearm by Baldwin.”

The “30 Rock” actor has denied responsibility for the shooting, saying he cocked the revolver but never pulled the trigger and it was the job of Gutierrez-Reed and other weapons’ professionals to ensure it was unloaded.

Prosecutors could face long odds convincing a jury Baldwin is criminally liable, according to legal experts.

Gutierrez-Reed has said she checked the rounds she loaded into the gun were dummies before handing it to first assistant director Dave Halls. Halls handed it to Baldwin, telling him it was a “cold gun,” meaning it did not contain an explosive charge, according to police.

Halls has signed a plea deal for a misdemeanor charge and is expected to cooperate with the prosecution.

On Dec. 13 Halls testified to New Mexico’s worker safety bureau that Gutierrez-Reed handed the gun to Baldwin and that he never declared the Pietta reproduction Colt .45 a “cold gun.”

Industry-wide firearms safety guidelines instruct actors to assume a firearm is loaded with blank ammunition. Live ammunition is strictly forbidden on sets.


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