At some point, the Alec Baldwin story became about something else entirely. Alec’s accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust in October 2021 became some kind of macabre “gotcha” for conservatives. The right-wingers were mad that Baldwin was and is a long-time Democrat, and that Baldwin spoofed Donald Trump on SNL. I’m trying to explain why I tapped out of the tragic story at some point last year – by most accounts, Hutchins’ death was a preventable tragedy if producers (like Baldwin) had paid closer attention to the live firearms being used in the production, and if the armorer and propmaster were doing their f–king jobs. I thought the people involved with Halyna Hutchins’s death were guilty of criminal negligence, not murder. So… I’m surprised that after a fourteen-month investigation, there are charges being brought for… involuntary manslaughter. Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed (the armorer) are both facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Alec Baldwin, the producer and star of Rust, will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. On Thursday, Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced that Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will both be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. No charges will be filed related to the shooting of Rust director Joel Souza, who was injured in the incident. The charges will be formally filed before the end of the month.
Assistant director David Halls signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to a press release.
“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the Rust film crew,” Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
Reeb added, “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. 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.”
Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE Thursday, “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. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion, attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed, said in a statement, “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. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.”
In New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine, according to a press release. The other involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act charge is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5000 fine; since a firearm was involved, this is punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.
Okay, so I googled for a bit and I think I understand (in a general sense) why the charge is involuntary manslaughter. The DA will have to prove that Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were not only negligent but “reckless” in their handling of the gun. Remember, Alec’s argument was that, at the time, he believed he was handling a prop gun. He had no idea that he was handling a weapon with live bullets. I guess the DA’s argument is: well, he should have known. I agree, but I’m not sure that makes Baldwin guilty of involuntary manslaughter. I tend to think the case against Gutierrez-Reed is a lot stronger than the case against Baldwin. We’ll see. I mean that literally, I’m sure all of the cable news outlets will have wall-to-wall coverage if this makes it to court.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red, ABC.
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