Actor Alec Baldwin and an armorer for the film “Rust” were formally charged with involuntary manslaughter Tuesday in connection with the fatal shooting of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021, according to court papers filed in New Mexico.
Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who served as the set armorer on the Western film, were both accused of “many instances of extremely reckless acts or reckless failures to act” on set. Both have received a felony charge that could carry up to a five-year prison sentence after the case goes before a jury.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who first announced the case in mid-January, said the charges are a necessary measure to hold people responsible for the shooting.
“Today we have taken another important step in securing justice for Halyna Hutchins,” Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. “In New Mexico, no one is above the law and justice will be served.”
The New York Times notes that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed won’t be arrested while the case moves forward unless they fail to comply with court appearances.
Hutchins was shot and killed on Oct. 21, 2021, while members of the “Rust” film crew were setting up a scene inside a church building. Baldwin was practicing drawing a weapon, which discharged, striking Hutchins and the film’s director, Joel Souza. Baldwin has maintained he did not pull the trigger, and that he was told the firearm was “cold,” meaning it had no live rounds inside.
It is still unclear how live rounds ended up on set. The mere presence of them has been described as an extreme situation that goes against safety regulations.
But prosecutors laid out a string of incidents they attributed to negligence, which they said contributed to Hutchins’ death.
A statement of probable cause filed by a special investigator for the district attorney’s office accuses Baldwin of failing to follow safety protocols, saying he didn’t attend a firearms training before filming began. Gutierrez-Reed, the statement alleges, didn’t check the “rounds she was loading into the firearms” before the fatal shooting, “allowing live rounds on scene.” Prosecutors argued that Gutierrez-Reed wasn’t qualified to serve as an armorer and didn’t have enough experience to do so.
The document also says a real gun shouldn’t have been used on set, and that a replica or rubber weapon would have served in its place.
“This reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol directly caused the fatal shooting,” Robert Shilling, the special investigator, wrote in the statement.
A Santa Fe judge will determine if there is probable cause to see the criminal charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed move forward.