Alec Baldwin Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in Halyna Hutchins’ Death

USA News

  • Alec Baldwin was charged Tuesday in connection with the fatal ‘Rust’ shooting.
  • Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the set’s armorer, was charged with the same counts. 
  • They each face up to five years behind bars if convicted on the more serious charge. 

Actor Alec Baldwin was criminally charged on Tuesday in connection with the October 2021 accidental film-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts told Insider.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer in charge of weapons on the set, has also been charged, the spokesperson said. 

New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies first announced she was charging Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed earlier this month with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Both face up to five years behind bars if convicted of the more serious charge. 

“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew,” Carmack-Altwies said earlier this month. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”

When news first broke of the criminal charges, Luke Nikas, an attorney for Baldwin, told Insider that the decision to bring charges against the actor “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” Nikas said. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”

An attorney for Gutierrez-Reed said earlier this month that the charges “are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts.”

halyna hutchins

Halyna Hutchins attends the SAGindie Sundance Filmmakers Reception at Cafe Terigo on January 28, 2019 in Park City, Utah.

Fred Hayes/Getty Images

“Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter,” lawyer Jason Bowles said in a statement, adding, “We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.”

When the impending charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were first announced, prosecutors said they cut a plea deal with David Halls, the film’s assistant director, who pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. 

Baldwin faces up to five years in jail

The two charges Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face are involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act.

They are being “charged in the alternative,” which means that a jury can only find each of them guilty of one of those charges. 

The charges have different burdens of proof. For involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors must prove there was underlying negligence that led to Hutchins’ death. For the other charge, they must prove more than simple negligence.

The second charge also carries a firearms enhancement, which has a mandatory sentence of five years, the maximum they each face. The involuntary manslaughter charge carries a punishment of up to 18 months behind bars and a $5,000 fine. 

A tragic accident

Baldwin was practicing a scene on the New Mexico set of the Western film “Rust,” which he is also producing, when the weapon he was holding fired and fatally struck the film’s cinematographer, Hutchins, and injured the film’s director, Joel Souza.

The shooting happened as Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw technique that involved him pointing a Colt .45 revolver at a camera on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set, according to affidavits previously released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. 

A bullet from the gun struck Hutchins, a married mother of one, mortally wounding her. The movie’s director, Joel Souza, was also injured by the bullet. 

According to affidavits that were included in search warrant documents, the prop gun was one of three “set up” by the film’s armorer, Gutierrez-Reed, and left on a cart.

The firearm was then picked up by the movie’s assistant director, Halls, who took it to Baldwin for a scene inside a church building on the set, according to the police documents. As Halls handed the gun to Baldwin, he said “cold gun,” indicating that the gun did not contain any live rounds, according to the documents. The gun was then fired by Baldwin.

Investigators have still not revealed how a live round ended up in the gun.

Baldwin told ABC News two months after the shooting that he never pulled the trigger, but an FBI report countered that, saying “the revolver could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger.”

In the days after the fatal shooting, scrutiny focused on the film’s armorer, Gutierrez-Reed, with reports from The Daily Beast and The Wrap suggesting she exhibited poor gun safety both on the set of “Rust” and a prior project.

Gutierrez-Reed filed a lawsuit against prop supplier PDQ Arm & Prop LLC in January 2022, saying the company caused Hutchins’ death by providing a box to the set that contained live ammunition mixed with dummy rounds. Seth Kenney, the owner of PDQ Arm & Prop LLC, went on Good Morning America in December 2021 and denied the live rounds came from his company. 

Baldwin, who has been named as a defendant in multiple lawsuits in the aftermath of the shooting, filed a lawsuit late last year to “clear his name” over the incident. 

In the suit, Baldwin claimed that Hutchins died due to the negligence of other crew members on the set of the low-budget movie and that he was told that the gun that was handed to him was safe.

Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and other crew members in February 2022, alleging that the “Rust” producers cut corners on safety procedures and that Baldwin “recklessly shot and killed” Hutchins. 

In October 2022, it was announced that the production company behind “Rust” and the Hutchins family reached an undisclosed settlement in the wrongful death suit. Matthew Hutchins announced at the time that he will serve as an executive producer for the movie. 

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