Jan. 31 (UPI) — Actor Alec Baldwin and his armorer have been formally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deadly shooting on the set of the film Rust that killed a cinematographer.
The Santa Fe District Attorney filed involuntary manslaughter charges Tuesday against Baldwin and his weapons armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, alleging the actor had not been properly trained to handle the weapon that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, because he was “distracted.”
“The evidence clearly indicates that Baldwin recklessly ignored these rules, on multiple occasions, resulting in the fatal shooting,” according to the 10-page statement of probable cause that was filed with the charges.
Hutchins was killed at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico on Oct. 21, 2021, when the prop gun held by Baldwin discharged.
Tuesday’s charging document outlines a number of “acts or omissions of recklessness” that lead to the shooting. Those include not using a replica firearm for an unscheduled rehearsal, letting the armorer leave the set, not performing required safety checks, and not dealing with safety complaints on the set.
The assistant director of Rust, David Halls, handed the weapon to Baldwin before the shooting and is facing a single misdemeanor count of negligent use of a deadly weapon. After signing a plea deal, Halls is expected to serve a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
In the probable cause statement, prosecutors argue Baldwin had not been properly trained to handle the gun, saying he had been “distracted and consistently talking on his cell phone to his family” during the one-hour weapon training session.
“If Baldwin had performed the mandatory safety checks with the armorer and not pointed the gun at Hutchins, the tragedy would not have occurred,” Robert Shilling, a special investigator for the district attorney’s office, wrote in the statement of probable cause.
“Baldwin knew the first rule of gun safety is never point a gun at someone you don’t intend on shooting,” Shilling added. “This reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol directly caused the fatal shooting.”
Prosecutors in Santa Fe announced on Jan. 19 that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would face charges.
“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,” Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb said in a statement earlier this month. “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.”
According to the probable cause statement released Tuesday, “Reed knew Baldwin required more training,” which “could have prevented the fatal shooting,” prosecutors said, citing a statement from Gutierrez-Reed in her deposition as she told prosecutors she pleaded with production to provide more training on the weapons.
“She was told by production to focus on props. Hannah asked Halls if they could use a plastic gun for the rehearsal scene and he said no, wanting a ‘real gun.” Hannah asked to be called back into the church if Baldwin was going to use the gun at all and Halls failed to do that,” attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion, said in a statement.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter. A jury will decide which count is appropriate and if convicted, both would be sentenced for only one count.
Lawyers for Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed say they intend to fight the charges in court.
If found guilty on either count, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed each face up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. Prosecutors say one of the counts involves a firearm enhancement that could be punishable by up to five years in prison.