Alec Baldwin formally charged with involuntary manslaughter over 'Rust' shooting
On Tuesday, American actor Alec Baldwin and weapons specialist Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were formally charged with involuntary manslaughter over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust in Mexico in 2021. Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies accused the actor of "many instances of extremely reckless acts," and provided evidence that the accused deviated repeatedly from the set safety standards.
Why does this story matter?
- The incident happened on October 21, 2021, when Baldwin was rehearsing a scene on the set of the movie Rust and pointed the prop gun toward the camera lens.
- The gun fired a shot, and it struck cinematographer Hutchins in the chest, leading to her death while wounding the director, Joel Souza.
- The charges against the actor were first announced on January 19, 2023.
Baldwin-Reed charged with two sets of involuntary manslaughter
According to prosecutors, Baldwin's involvement as a producer and as the person who fired the gun weighed in the decision to file charges. Further, in connection with the shooting, Carmack-Altwies outlined two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The document also highlighted at least a dozen "acts or omissions of recklessness" leading up to the shooting, including "not using a replica firearm for an unscheduled rehearsal."
If found guilty, these are the charges they will face
With the view to move toward trial, prosecutors will forgo a grand jury, and will majorly rely on a judge, who will determine if they have sufficient evidence in the case. This could take up to 60 days. If found guilty, the actor and the set armorer will face up to 18 months in jail, and a fine of $5,000.
Baldwin has vowed to fight charges
Maintaining their innocence, the accused have vowed to fight the charges. Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas referred to his previous statement, in which he regarded the charges as a "terrible miscarriage of justice." Further, he stated, "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun, or anywhere on the movie set, and relied on professionals with whom he worked."
Baldwin described the killing as a 'tragic accident'
In the media interviews earlier, Baldwin denied pulling the trigger on the gun, and stated that it had just "gone off." Baldwin, who is also a co-producer for the film Rust, described the killing as a "tragic accident." According to him, during the rehearsal, he received confirmation that the gun was safe, and didn't know that it was, in reality, loaded.
What is involuntary manslaughter?
Involuntary manslaughter is defined as an unintentional killing that is caused by recklessness or negligence. It is different from any other form of homicide and ranks lowest in the category. If found guilty, a person could invite a sentence in prison of up to 18 months and a $5,000 fine. In this case, special prosecutor Andrea Reeb has cited a "criminal disregard for safety."