Actor charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and faces up to five years in jail if convicted
Halyna Hutchins (42), a cinematographer, was killed and Joel Souza, the director, was wounded in October 2021 when a gun Baldwin was using in a rehearsal for the film in the New Mexico desert fired off a live bullet.
Prosecutors in Santa Fe announced yesterday that both Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s 24-year-old armourer overseeing the handling of weapons, would be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
They said the actor, who vowed to fight the charges, “had a duty” to ensure the gun and the bullets were properly checked and that he should never have pointed it at anyone. “You should not point a gun at someone that you’re not willing to shoot,” Mary Carmack-Altwies, Santa Fe first judicial district attorney, said.
In New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The second charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof that there was more than simple negligence and carries a mandatory penalty of five years in prison.
If convicted of the latter, the sentences would most likely be merged.
David Halls, the film’s first assistant director, agreed to plead guilty to the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Mr Halls and Ms Gutierrez-Reed handled the gun before it was given to Baldwin for the rehearsal, in which the actor was practising pulling out the revolver.
Baldwin denied responsibility for the Ukrainian-born cinematographer’s death.
“Mr Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney, said after the charges were announced, calling it a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.
“He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds,” Mr Nikas said. “We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
District Attorney Carmack-Altwies said the charges brought against the award-winning star showed “no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice”.
She said the state would send out a court summons in the coming weeks, but a warrant would not be issued for Baldwin’s arrest.
“If any one of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls – had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor, said in a statement.
“The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the Rustfilm set,” Ms Reeb said.
Ms Hutchins’ family welcomed the news yesterday.
Matthew Hutchins, her husband and the father of her child, said: “It is a comfort that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges.”
Mr Baldwin (64), who was also a producer on the film, has said he believed the gun was not loaded with live rounds, and was what in the film world is called “cold”, meaning it carried blanks and could not hurt anyone.
New Mexico’s medical examiner has ruled the shooting was an accident.
Prosecutors have pushed back against criticism of the 15-month delay in making a decision.
They said they had to wait for reports from the FBI and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office which took a year.