Alec Baldwin, the actor and co-producer of the movie Rust, is facing a new criminal charge over the 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the film set.
A grand jury in Santa Fe, New Mexico, indicted Baldwin on Friday for involuntary manslaughter, after prosecutors had dropped the same charge against him last April. They said they needed more forensic analysis of the gun that fired the fatal shot.
Baldwin has claimed he did not pull the trigger, but only pulled back the hammer of the gun during a rehearsal in October 2021. The gun also wounded the film’s director, Joel Souza.
Baldwin denied that he pulled the trigger
However, a report from ballistic experts hired by the prosecutors said, “Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”
Baldwin’s lawyers, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, said in an email on Friday: “We look forward to our day in court.”
Baldwin and his co-producers are also facing civil lawsuits from the Rust crew, but those are on hold until the criminal case is resolved.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the weapons supervisor for Rust, is also charged with involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering. She is accused of handing Baldwin a loaded gun, failing to check the rounds, drinking before the shooting, and giving cocaine to someone after being questioned by police. She has pleaded not guilty, and her trial is set for February.
Her lawyers have criticized the prosecutors for mishandling the case and trying to smear their client.
‘It was a tragic accident’
David Halls, the assistant director and safety coordinator for Rust, pleaded no contest to unsafe handling of a firearm last March. He got six months probation and cooperated with the investigation. He and Baldwin have said they did not know there were live rounds in the gun.
Halls’s lawyer said, “Mr Halls never believed Mr Baldwin should be charged with a crime. It was a tragic accident that is best resolved out of criminal court.”
The Rust Movie Productions company paid a $100,000 fine to New Mexico regulators for violating safety protocols and ignoring previous misfires on the set.
Rust resumed production in April 2023. Matthew Hutchins, the husband of the slain cinematographer, became an executive producer on the film.