Hollywood star Alec Baldwin is facing serious allegations after the fatal shot that came out of his Colt while filming a western.
Now actor Alec Baldwin (64) has certainty: the prosecutor in the US state of New Mexico has brought charges against him and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. The agency officially filed the lawsuit in the Santa Fe court on Tuesday. If found guilty with aggravating circumstances, both face up to five years in prison.
The camerawoman Halyna Hutchins (1979-2021) was fatally injured while filming the western “Rust” at a film ranch in Santa Fe in October 2021. Baldwin, who served as lead actor and producer on the film, was holding a gun in rehearsal for a scene when a shot went off. Director Joel Souza (49) was hit in the shoulder by the projectile and injured in the incident. Investigations revealed that the Colt had a real bullet lodged in it. Baldwin and the armorer had always denied responsibility for the fatal accident.
Minimal weapon training
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies had already announced appropriate steps for an indictment in mid-January. On Tuesday she announced the court documents with the serious allegations. Baldwin acted “extremely negligent” in many ways. As an actor and as a producer of the film, he disregarded numerous safety regulations. He is accused of having completed only minimal weapons training. Contrary to the guidelines, he aimed the gun at people. The indictment also challenges Baldwin’s statement that the shot went off without his doing. The investigation would have shown that he had his finger on the trigger and operated the weapon.
With Gutierrez-Reed, the “Rust” producers would have hired an inexperienced and unqualified armorer. The young woman would have disregarded many safety precautions, for example she was not in the same room with Baldwin at the shooting scene. Despite her supervision, live ammunition got onto the set. Investigators found five real cartridges at the film location, as well as the shell of the deadly bullet, it said.
“We will win”
The two accused must now appear before the magistrate within 30 days, but this is also possible via video conference. Baldwin will defend himself against the allegations, said his lawyer Luke Nikas in mid-January. Baldwin had no way of knowing there was live ammunition in the gun or anywhere on the set. He relied on the staff, who assured him that there was no live ammunition in the gun, Nikas said in a statement. “We will defend ourselves against these allegations and we will win.”
Assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun on the film set, has pleaded guilty to negligent handling of a gun, prosecutors say. He could get away with a suspended sentence after the judge’s approval, it said. Halyna Hutchins is survived by a husband and a son. A civil lawsuit filed by Matthew Hutchins, the camerawoman’s widower, against Baldwin and others involved in the production of “Rust” was settled out of court last October.
Her death was a “terrible accident”, the widower emphasized at the time. They also announced plans to continue shooting the stalled “Rust” to honor the cinematographer’s recent work. That now seems questionable. The family announced almost two weeks ago that they would fully support the involuntary manslaughter charge and cooperate with the prosecutor’s office. (SDA/las)
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