Alec Baldwin to be recharged in fatal ‘Rust’ movie shooting, prosecutors say

Posted at 3:43 PM, October 17, 2023

SANTA FE, N.M. (Court TV/AP) — In a shocking turn of events, special prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking to recharge actor Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the ‘Rust’ movie set in New Mexico two years ago.

screen grab from bodycamera video shows Hannah Guttierez-Reed and others on the set of the movie Rust.

In this screen grab from lapel camera video provided by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, movie set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, right, speaks with a sheriff’s deputy as other colleagues stand with her on the set of the western move “Rust,” shortly after the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal, Oct. 21, 2021, in New Mexico.  (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

New Mexico-based prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said they’ll present evidence to a grand jury within the next two months, noting that “additional facts” have come to light in the October 2021 fatal shooting on the set of Western film while filming on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

The shooting occurred during a rehearsal for a scene involving a prop firearm, which was supposed to contain blanks. The investigation revealed that Baldwin, a coproducer of the film, was pointing a pistol at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when it went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

In April, special prosecutors initially dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin, saying they were informed the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. They later pivoted and began weighing whether to refile a charge against Baldwin after receiving a new analysis of the gun.

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer — but not the trigger — and the gun fired. However, an FBI forensic report found the weapon could not have fired unless the trigger was pulled.

The gun analysis from experts in ballistics and forensic testing based in Arizona and New Mexico relied on replacement parts to reassemble the gun fired by Baldwin — after parts of the pistol were broken during earlier testing by the FBI. The report examined the gun and markings it left on a spent cartridge to conclude that the trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.

Aerial view of the "Rust" set.

FILE – This aerial photo shows the movie set of “Rust,” at Bonanza Creek Ranch, Oct. 23, 2021, in Santa Fe, N.M. Prosecutors are accusing the weapons supervisor on the film set where Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer of drinking and smoking marijuana in the evenings during the filming of “Rust,” saying she was likely hung over when she loaded a live bullet into the revolver that was used by the actor. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

After Baldwin’s initial involuntary manslaughter charges were called off, the focus shifted to the two others charged in the shooting, the movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls.

Gutierrez-Reed is expected to stand trial starting Dec. 6 and has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence. A defense attorney for Gutierrez-Reed has characterized it as a tragic accident and says the weapons specialist committed no crime. Prosecutors allege Gutierrez-Reed was negligent in the handling of firearms and ammunition on the set. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison.

“Rust” safety coordinator and assistant director David Halls pleaded no contest to a conviction for unsafe handling of a firearm and a suspended sentence of six months of probation. Hall has agreed to cooperate in further inquiries into the fatal shooting.

The 2021 shooting resulted in a series of civil lawsuits centered on accusations that the defendants were lax with safety standards. The cases have included wrongful death claims filed by members of Hutchins’ family. Baldwin and other defendants have disputed accusations they were lax with safety standards.

Baldwin has since resumed filming at Yellowstone Film Ranch on the set of a rebooted “Rust” production, a representative for Rust Movie Productions told the Associated Press. Preparations for filming were underway at the film’s new location in Montana, 18 months after the shooting shut it down.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.