SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Actor Alec Baldwin and a weapons specialist have been formally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set, according to court documents filed by prosecutors Tuesday.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies filed the charging documents naming Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who supervised weapons on the set of the Western “Rust.”
The filing comes nearly two weeks after she first announced that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would be prosecuted for what authorities have described as a pattern of criminal disregard for safety. In recent weeks, Carmack-Altwies has outlined two sets of involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the shooting.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed maintain their innocence and have vowed to fight the charges.
Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas declined comment Tuesday and referred to his previous statement on the case, in which he called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice” that he and his client would fight and win.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” the statement said. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked.”
Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.
Prosecutors have said that Baldwin’s involvement as a producer and as the person who fired the gun weighed in the decision to file charges.
The manslaughter charge against Baldwin includes alternative standards and sanctions. One would apply a charge of manslaughter for reckless disregard of safety “without due caution and circumspection.”
Hutchins’ death already has led to new safety precautions in the film industry.
Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press in a Jan. 19 interview that the set was “really being run pretty fast and loose” and that Baldwin should have known there had been previous misfires on the set and that multiple people had brought up safety concerns.
She added that Baldwin was the one who pointed the gun and pulled the trigger.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be issued a summons to appear in court. Prosecutors will forgo a grand jury and rely on a judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to move toward trial. It could take up to 60 days for decision.
Involuntary manslaughter can involve a killing that happens while a defendant is doing something lawful but dangerous and is acting negligently or without caution. Special prosecutor Andrea Reeb has cited a pattern of “criminal disregard for safety” on the set of “Rust.”
Prosecutors also said they will release the terms of a signed plea agreement with assistant director David Halls, who oversaw safety on the set. Participants in the un-filmed rehearsal have given conflicting accounts of who handed the gun to Baldwin.
Halls has agreed to plead guilty in the negligent use of a deadly weapon, they said.
Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said in a statement Monday that prosecutors are “fully focused on securing justice for Halyna Hutchins” and “the evidence and the facts speak for themselves.”
Baldwin, also a co-producer on “Rust,” has described the killing as a tragic accident. The 64-year-old actor said he was told the gun was safe and has sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded .45-caliber revolver.
In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins, he pointed the gun in her direction and pulled back and released the hammer of the weapon, which discharged.
Defense attorney Jason Bowles, who represents Gutierrez-Reed, said the charges are the result of a “flawed investigation” and an “inaccurate understanding of the full facts.”
Defendants can participate remotely in many initial court proceedings or seek to have their first appearance waived.
The decision to charge Baldwin marks a stunning turn of events for an A-list actor whose 40-year career included the early blockbuster “The Hunt for Red October” and a starring role in the sitcom “30 Rock,” as well as iconic appearances in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and a film adaptation of David Mamet’s “Glengary Glen Ross.” In recent years, Baldwin was known for his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
FILE – Actor Alec Baldwin attends a news conference at United Nations headquarters, on Sept. 21, 2015. A Santa Fe district attorney is prepared to announce whether to press charges in the fatal 2021 film-set shooting of a cinematographer by actor Baldwin during a rehearsal on the set of the Western movie “Rust.” Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said a decision will be announced Thursday morning, Jan. 19, 2022, in a statement and on social media platforms. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)