Crime /

Charges Against Alec Baldwin for 'Rust' Shooting Downgraded

‘The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys,’ said a spokeswoman for the District Attorney

Prosecutors in New Mexico have reduced the charges against Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the actor-producer and the armorer of the movie Rust.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died on the movie’s set on Oct. 21, 2021 when a gun Baldwin was holding discharged. The director, Joel Souza, was also injured in the shooting.

Initially, prosecutors had charged Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed each with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine, with a firearm enhancement penalty, which carries a minimum five-year prison sentence. Newly filed court documents now show that the firearm enhancement penalty has been dropped. Now, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will only face one involuntary manslaughter charge.

Baldwin’s legal team had challenged the firearm enhancement, which was enacted in May of 2022. Baldwin’s lawyers argued that, because the law was not in effect at the time of the shooting, it should not be applied. Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis had said her office was reviewing the claim, per KTLA.

“In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set,” Heather Brewer, spokeswoman for the New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney, said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter. “The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”

The first hearing in the case is currently scheduled for Feb. 24. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are expected to appear virtually.

Baldwin and Hutchins’ family already settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2022.

The lawsuit claimed that Baldwin and the other producers “chose to hire the cheapest crew available” as well as ”knowingly hired a wholly unqualified armorer” and thereby disregarded industry safety standards.

“The Defendants had the power to prevent her death if they had only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations,” stated the lawsuit. 

Under the terms of the settlement, Hutchins’ husband Matthew will serve as an executive producer of Rust, which is expected to resume filming this spring. The other terms and any monetary compensation were not disclosed.

Mr. Hutchins referred to his wife’s death as a “terrible accident” in a statement announcing the settlement.

Baldwin has maintained that he is not guilty of Hutchin’s death, per News Channel 5. He said in an interview after the shooting that while he had cocked the gun’s hammer, he did not pull the trigger and was not responsible for the gun firing.

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