After over a year of the tragic incident that left Halyna Hutchins fatally wounded on the production set of the upcoming movie “Rust,” prosecutors have decided to move forward with criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin and members of the film’s production. In a statement issued by New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, “‘Rust’ actor and producer Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the film’s Santa Fe County set in 2021.”
The filing follows the widely covered story of Baldwin allegedly firing a live prop gun on the set of the film’s production, which killed film cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Throughout the media coverage of the incident and the investigation, Baldwin had claimed he wasn’t aware of the prop gun being loaded with a live round and that responsibility should be placed on the film’s armorer prop assistant Hannah Gutierrez-Reed as well as the film’s assistant director Dave Halls. Gutierrez-Reed and Halls have each taken routes in defending themselves as well as reaching settlements separate from Baldwin with attorneys and the victim’s family.
Under the filing, both the actor’s and armorer’s fate will be decided by a jury who will decide on a guilty or not guilty ruling and under which legal definition the involuntary manslaughter will fall. Through either ruling, a conviction would mean up to 18 months in jail and a $5000 fine, according to the district attorney. Mary Carmack-Altwies states that the charges are being filed against the actor and production team to reach justice for the family and to reach a settlement of the case. Carmack-Altwies also gave insight into why the filing will go through despite the case’s nature: “Just because it is an accident doesn't mean that it's not criminal” (Vercammen et al., 2023). She also claims that just because the actor was unaware of the prop gun being loaded, this does not excuse the actor from being responsible for ensuring the gun wasn’t loaded with a real round.
The victim’s family also spoke out in support of the prosecutors, thanking them for taking action in the name of their slain loved one: “We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life. Our independent investigation also supports that charges are warranted. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.”
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