Actor and producer Alec Baldwin was formally charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter in the on the New Mexico set of Rust, the Santa Fe-area district attorney said in a statement.
Armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who oversaw weapons used in the Western movie, has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to DA Mary Carmack-Altwies. The movie’s assistant director, David Halls, has been charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to the DA’s office, which added that Halls has pleaded no contest and entered into a plea agreement that’s pending approval.
Halyna Hutchins, Rust’s 42-year-old director of photography, and Joel Souza, the movie’s 48-year-old director, “were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin” in October 2021, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office said at the time. Hutchins died after being rushed to an Albuquerque hospital, but Souza survived. No charges will be filed in relation to Souza’s injuries, according to the statement.
Baldwin, who’s 64, and Gutierrez-Reed, 25, each face two different types of involuntary manslaughter charge. According to the DA’s office, a jury will decide not only whether it finds Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed guilty, but which definition of involuntary manslaughter, if either, applies.
Both types of charge involve fourth-degree felonies. One will require proof of negligence and is punishable under New Mexico law by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. As the Associated Press explains, the second type of manslaughter charge, for reckless disregard of safety “without due caution and circumspection,” could result in a mandatory five years in prison because it involved a gun.
Halls and Gutierrez Reed both handled the gun before it was given to Baldwin on the day of the shooting, The Wall Street Journal noted.
“The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the Rust film set,” Andrea Reeb, the case’s special prosecutor, said in a statement earlier this month announcing the intent to file charges. “In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
Earlier this month, Baldwin attorney Luke Nikas said in a statement reported by Deadline that the decision “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death.”
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set,” Nikas said. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”
In a statement emailed to CNET earlier in January, Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys said the charges “are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts.”
“Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter,” attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion said. “We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.”
Attorneys for Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday’s filing of formal charges.