Actor Alec Baldwin has been indicted for involuntary manslaughter by a New Mexico grand jury for the 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust.” It is the second time that Baldwin has been charged for Hutchins’ death, which prosecutors allege was due to him pulling the trigger of an accidentally-loaded prop revolver.
The crime carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.
Previous charges were dropped due to an investigation indicating that the revolver’s hammer was modified to allow for firing without a trigger pull. However, two other investigations, one by the FBI, said that the prop gun could not have fired a shot unless Baldwin pulled the trigger.
A Death On Set
The Hutchins shooting occurred after two other film crew members handled the weapon: on-set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director/safety coordinator David Halls. Both crew members faced criticism before the shooting for their negligent handling of firearms.
Gutierrez-Reed previously served as the armorer on another western, “The Old Way,” which was her first film. She was criticized by the cast and crew, including star Nicolas Cage, for not following firearm safety regulations and discharging weapons without warning, and was considered highly inexperienced. David Halls also had a history of ignoring safety regulations for firearms as well as pyrotechnics, reportedly refusing to announce when he brought a prop gun on set and pushing a pyrotechnician to continue with a shoot when they needed medical attention.
Halls handed the prop revolver to Baldwin, claiming that it was “cold” or not loaded with a live round. Baldwin then placed it into and subsequently drew it from the holster he was wearing while rehearsing for a gunfight scene, causing the gun to fire, killing Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
A History Of The Case
Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin were charged with involuntary manslaughter on January 31, 2023. Both pleaded not guilty. The FBI began an investigation into the weapon, a Colt Single-Action Army revolver, and found that the gun could not have discharged without a pull of the trigger, no matter the status of the hammer--quarter-, half-, or fully-cocked. However, according to prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis, “new facts” related to a possible modification to the gun caused them to drop the charges against Baldwin, as it seemed that the new evidence exonerated him.
Recently, a firearms expert conducted a third investigation on the gun and concurred with the FBI, saying that Baldwin had to have pulled the trigger and shot Hutchins and Souza. Morrissey, Lewis, and a grand jury brought charges against Baldwin again on January 19, 2024.
Baldwin continues to deny that he was responsible for Hutchins’ death, and has expressed regret and sorrow for the shooting.
Image credits: Mat Hayward/Getty, Mark Sagliocco/Getty
Edited by: Matsoarelo Makuke
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