Alec Baldwin had the charges against him dropped for his shooting of a set operative in October 2021 on the set of his new film, Rust. Halyna Hutchins worked as cinematographer on set when the fatal shooting took place.
Hutchins died en route to hospital after she was struck directly in the chest by a bullet from what was believed to be a prop gun. According to court submissions, assistant director David Halls believed the gun to be unloaded and shouted “cold gun” before the fatal shooting took place. Alec Baldwin also alleged not pulling the trigger which the FBI later argued was impossible. They stated the gun could not have been fired without the trigger being pulled. Despite this, the LA Times recently uncovered that the gun, a .45 Colt Revolver, and had been modified. The revolver had a new trigger fitted on it which could have possibly resulted in a misfire.
The special prosecutors, Kari Morrisey and Jason Lewis, confirmed that the case could not proceed “under the current time constraints”. They also raised questions about the evidence that had been provided to law enforcement.
The BBC revealed that Hall had been fired from a previous set in 2019 for failures to ensure proper gun safety. Alongside Hall’s questionable firearm history, Alec Baldwin was accused of similar on set. Script supervisor Mamie Mitchell accused Baldwin of “playing russian roulette” on set.
On Feb. 15 2022, Hutchins family filed a lawsuit against Baldwin which alleged he “recklessly shot and killed” Hutchins. The case argues that Halyna would still be alive if the crew had not chosen to cut corners. Hutchins' husband claimed it was “absurd” that Baldwin had taken no responsibility for her death. However, by Oct. 5 all parties involved in the lawsuit had settled and disclosed that they all believed Hutchins death was an accident. Perhaps a result of tempers flaring and cooling after such an emotionally provocative event which resulted in a flurry of media attention.
In a further development earlier this year, Baldwin and Hannah Guttierez-Reed, the armorer on set, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Both faced up to “18 months in jail and $5,000 in fines”. According to a statement from the New Mexico special prosecutors, “this decision does not absolve Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled.” Baldwin’s lawyers have praised the move and hope that this brings the chapter to a close.
While the charges against Baldwin have been dropped, the case remains open against Hannah Guttierez-Reed. Her lawyers are “confident” that at the end of the process Guttierez-Reed will also have been exonerated of all charges.
Questions around negligence will remain especially while Guttierez-Reed is still facing charges. Baldwin had previously asserted that he was more than aware that this event could have ended his career. While the news will be a weight off of Baldwin’s shoulders, the specter of charges potentially being refiled will bear on Baldwin and his lawyers. The BBC reported that as a result of Hutchins death, the scene involved has been rewritten.
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