New Mexico prosecutors unveiled involuntary manslaughter charges against actor Alec Baldwin on Thursday over the fatal shooting of a crew member on the set of “Rust” in 2021.
Baldwin was charged with two counts alongside the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was also given two involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of the movie’s cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Baldwin reportedly shot Hutchins on set while practicing a scene at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set.
“Rust” Director Joel Souza was also injured in the shooting, but no charges have been filed in his case.
“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,” a statement issued on behalf of the Hutchins Family via attorney Brian J. Panish read, as reported by Fox News. “Our independent investigation also supports 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.”
If Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are convicted of involuntary manslaughter — one type of which prosecutors say connotes negligence, as The Washington Post reported — they could face up to 18 months of jail time and a fine of $5,000. The second kind of manslaughter charge “requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death” and adds a punishment for “firearm enhancement,” which comes with a mandatory minimum of five years behind bars.
Prosecutors filed charges 15 months after the shooting, which occurred on Oct. 21, 2021. According to The New York Times, the state was waiting for a final report from the local sheriff’s office, which was completed last October.
“In the aftermath of the shooting, the authorities found five additional live rounds on the set, including on top of the cart where props were kept and in a belt that Mr. Baldwin was wearing as a costume piece,” the Times reported. “But the investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office did not answer a key question of the case: how live ammunition ended up on a movie set.”
In November, Baldwin filed a lawsuit against the film production team for handing him a loaded gun. Several members of the project reportedly walked off set before the shooting over what they said were inadequate safety practices.