Alec Baldwin charged in ‘Rust’ shooting, prosecutors say he was ‘distracted’ during training

Actor Alec Baldwin arrives at the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at the Hilton Midtown in New York on December 6, 2022.
Angela Weiss | Afp | Getty Images

Santa Fe prosecutors on Tuesday filed charges of two counts of involuntary manslaughter against Alec Baldwin for the fatal shooting on the set of the movie “Rust.”

They alleged the actor had not been properly trained to handle the weapon that ultimately killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer of the film, was also charged with the same two counts of involuntary manslaughter. David Halls, the assistant director of “Rust” who was also involved in handling the gun that killed Hutchins, signed a plea deal, suspending his sentence and granting him six months of probation.

“Today, we have taken another important step in securing justice for Halyna Hutchins,” New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said. “In New Mexico, no one is above the law and justice will be served.”

Baldwin’s attorneys did not immediately provide a comment.

Baldwin had been “distracted and consistently talking on his cell phone to his family,” during what had intended to be a more than one-hour firearm-training session, according to a statement of probable cause that was filed in conjunction with the charges. Due to Baldwin’s distractions, the training he received was estimated to be 30 minutes, according to the DA’s statement.

In addition to being the star of the film, Baldwin was one of the producers, deeming him responsible for upholding the safety protocols and for hiring Gutierrez-Reed despite her lack of qualifications.

“Baldwin, by act or omission or failure to act in his position as a producer directly contributed and/or failed to mitigate reckless and dangerous actions during a very short time period,” alleges the DA’s office, which claims that at least a dozen “acts or omissions of recklessness” took place on the day of the shooting alone.

According to the probable cause statement, Baldwin has “asserted publicly that he is an ‘…expert…’ in the realm of firearms and filmmaking.”

“Reed knew Baldwin required more training,” which “could have prevented the fatal shooting,” prosecutors said, citing a statement Gutierrez-Reed issued in her deposition.

Hours before the shooting took place, half a dozen members of the film crew walked off the set to protest what they viewed as harsh, unsafe working conditions, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed pushed back on the probable cause statement, saying the district attorney “completely misunderstood the facts” and “reached the wrong conclusions.” They also said she was “denied and brushed aside” when she pleaded to provide more training with firearms.

“She was told by production to focus on props. Hannah asked Halls if they could us a plastic gun for the rehearsal scene and he said no, wanting a ‘real gun.’ Hannah asked to be called back into the church if Baldwin was going to use the gun at all and Halls failed to do that,” attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion said in a statement.

“Yet the district attorney has given Halls a 6 month probation misdemeanor and charged Hannah and Baldwin with felony offenses carrying at least 5 years in prison. The tragedy of this is had Hannah just been called back into the church by Halls, she would have performed the inspection and prevented this tragedy,” they added.

Authorities announced earlier this month they would file criminal charges in the case.

The documents filed in association with the charges state that Baldwin had not been properly trained for handling the weapon that killed Hutchins and injured Joel Souza, the film’s director, in October 2021.

Evidence from the Santa Fe district attorney’s office also claims that Gutierrez-Reed was unqualified for the role of armorer for the film, having “possessed no certification or certifiable training, or union ‘card’ for this practice, and that she admitted she was the armorer for only one film prior to this production.”

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed both face two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Both are felonies that carry $5,000 fines, but one includes an 18-month sentence while the other has a five-year sentence.

The two have been charged under a standard called “charged under the alternative,” meaning that a jury will decide which of the two manslaughter counts applies.

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