On January 31, 2023, actor Alec Baldwin and “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were each formally charged in the death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Halyna Hutchins had been shot and killed on the set of the Western film in October 2021. The Santa Fe police department’s investigation into her death wasn’t completed until the following year, and the Santa Fe District Attorney did not announce charges until January 19.
In addition to the manslaughter charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director Dave Halls pled guilty to the charge of the negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Manslaughter Charges Formally Filed Against Alec Baldwin & ‘Rust’ Armorer In Halyna Hutchins’ Death
On January 19, Andrea Reeb, a special prosecutor appointed to the case, said in a statement, “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,” Reeb continued. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. 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.”
On January 30, a spokesperson for First Judicial D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies released a separate statement, saying, “The District Attorney and the special prosecutor are fully focused on securing justice for Halyna Hutchins.”
Heather Brewer added, “The evidence and the facts speak for themselves,” and noted that there will be no press conference or interviews at the time of the filing in the New Mexico courts on Tuesday, January 31.
Alec Baldwin & Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Could Face Years Behind Bars
Both actor and producer Alec Baldwin and “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter in Halyna Hutchins’ death.
Under New Mexico law, the first charge amounts to a fourth-degree felony, which is punishable with a maximum eighteen-month prison sentence and a five thousand dollar fine.
The second charge is formally labeled as an involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act charge. This is also a fourth-degree felony that could also result in a maximum eighteen-month prison sentence and a five thousand dollar fine.
However, this second charge carries an additional firearm enhancement, which can result in a mandatory five years in prison if convicted. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are both charged “in the alternative,” which means that a jury can only convict them of one of the two counts.
According to the New York Post, neither Baldwin nor Gutierrez-Reed was required to appear in court on Tuesday and neither of them will be arrested. However, they will need to appear in court, either in person or via video call, within fifteen days of the charges being formally filed.
Lawyers For Baldwin & Gutierrez Reed ‘Will Fight These Charges’
Luke Nikas, a lawyer for Alec Baldwin, issued a statement, saying, “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set.”
“He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds,” Nikas continued. “We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
The lawyer for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles, also released a statement, saying, “Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter.”
“These charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts,” Bowles added. “We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.”
Baldwin Finds His Defense In Unlikely Places
On an episode of “The View” a day after the charges were announced, Joy Behar expressed her opinions on the charges Alec Baldwin was facing, questioning why he was the only producer to face criminal charges.
“There were four other producers on the show who have not been charged on the movie. Why? That’s one question I have,” Behar said. “He was a producer of story credit, so he had creative involvement, not exactly the job of somebody who would have to check the gun. That’s the job of other people.”
It’s worth noting that SAG-AFTRA agrees. The guild also released a statement following the charges, writing, “The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragedy, and all the more so because of its preventable nature. It is not a failure of duty or a criminal act on the part of any performer.”
The statement goes on to say, “The guidelines do not make it the performer’s responsibility to check any firearm. Performers train to perform, and they are not required or expected to be experts on guns or experienced in their use.”
Santa Fe DA Says That Baldwin Should Never Have Pointed The Gun At Anyone
In the court filing, provided by Deadline, a statement of probable clause puts the blame on Baldwin’s shoulders for not checking the gun: “the first rule of gun safety is never to point a gun at someone you don’t intend on shooting.”
The filing states that Baldwin also failed to undergo “required firearms training prior to the commencement of filming,” even “after [Gutierrez-Reed] requested more training.”
“This reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol directly caused the fatal shooting,” the statement reads. “Baldwin acted with willful disregard of the safety of others and in a manner which endangered other people.”
Although many have noted that Baldwin was a creative producer on the Western film, the court filing puts the blame on the actor for hiring Gutierrez-Reed as the lead armorer.
In a statement of probable cause, Robert Shilling, a special investigator for the district attorney’s office, wrote, “As the producer of a firearm intense film, evidence shows that Baldwin allowed, through acts or omissions, the hiring of inexperienced and unqualified [Gutierrez-Reed] for this production, failed to mitigate or establish more precautions to protect against [Gutierrez-Reed’s] inexperience, or failed to demand the minimum safety standards, protocols, and requirements on set.”