New Mexico prosecutors on Tuesday charged Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter, accusing him of skipping "required firearms training" and creating "a climate of recklessness" on the set of "Rust."
Baldwin and “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced.
Assistant director David Halls was also charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon and has already agreed to plead no contest, Carmack-Altwies said.
Baldwin allegedly 'not present' at gun training
Prosecutors have evidence showing Baldwin "was not present for required firearms training prior to the commencement of filming," special investigator Robert Shilling wrote in a probable cause statement.
And when another training session was scheduled on the set, the one-hour seminar lasted only 30 minutes because Baldwin was "distracted and talking on his cell phone to his family during the training," prosecutors said, citing a statement from Gutierrez-Reed.
And as the movie’s producer, Baldwin failed to hold enough safety meetings, Shilling wrote, which “resulted in a climate of recklessness as evidenced by the conduct of the cast and crew documented through statements and evidence.”
Deadly rehearsal didn't call for gunfire
Shilling also alleged the scene playing out in front of Hutchins didn’t require any shots to be fired.
“When reviewing the script and witness interviews, for this particular scene and close-up shot, evidence indicates the scene/shot did not require the weapon to be fired," Shilling wrote.
Hutchins, 42, was killed Oct. 21, 2021, during filming for “Rust” at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. Baldwin was rehearsing with a pistol for a scene when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
“It is also determined by consultation with expert armorers that in a rehearsal, a plastic gun or replica gun should be used as no firing of blanks is required," the probable cause statement said.
"However [Baldwin] fired the single action .45 long colt revolver resulting in the discharge of a projectile that struck and traveled through the right armpit of Halyna Hutchins, exited her back ... then struck Joel Souza in the right shoulder and lodged into his right back."
Baldwin a veteran of movie, TV sets with guns
Prosecutors also signaled they seek to use Baldwin's own résumé against him, claiming he's been around guns long enough to know better.
Baldwin "has asserted publicly that he is an '...expert...' in the realm of firearms and filmmaking," according to Shilling, who wrote that Baldwin has been a part of at least 40 films or TV shows that have used firearms.
"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, Shilling wrote.
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- Baldwin settles lawsuit with family of cinematographer killed on 'Rust' set
- Lethal prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin had misfired before
Tuesday's charges set the judicial clock in motion, as Baldwin will make his initial court appearances within the next 15 days, prosecutors have said.
Baldwin can appear in the first court appearances remotely, officials have said.
The case is expected to go through a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors will have to show a judge they have enough evidence to warrant a trial. The proceeding could happen in late April or early May, prosecutors have said.
A trial could take place by the end of the year, depending on the calendars of the judge, the prosecutors and the defense attorneys.
Baldwin has refused to take any responsibility for Hutchins' death.
"I feel that someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is. But I know it’s not me,” he told ABC News at the time.
DA says FBI tests show Baldwin fired gun
Prosecutors have pushed back against Baldwin's assertion and said they have an FBI lab report to show conclusively that he pulled the trigger.
Baldwin is alleged to have told responding sheriff's deputies that he "fired" the gun that killed Hutchins, Shilling wrote.
The FBI tested the weapon that killed Hutchins, striking it with a hammer at multiple angles to see whether it could fire without pressure on the trigger.
"The revolver did not malfunction," Shilling wrote. "This analysis clearly showed that the weapon could not ‘accidentally fire’; for the weapon to fire, the trigger had to have been depressed/pressed."
A representative for Baldwin declined to comment Tuesday afternoon.
Armorer says she pushed for more safety
Jason Bowles, a lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed, insisted his client shouldn't be charged because she did everything possible to bring up safety standards on the "Rust" set.
"Hannah pleaded to provide more firearms training," Bowles said in a statement. "She was denied and brushed aside. Hannah asked to be able to perform her armorer duties more for safety reasons. She was told by production to focus on props."
Bowles said Gutierrez-Reed shouldn't be facing a felony charge when Halls, the assistant director, could be looking at just six months of probation.
"Hannah asked Halls if they could us a plastic gun for the rehearsal scene and he said no, wanting a 'real gun,'" Bowles said.