The Memo: Alec Baldwin to be charged with manslaughter over Rust shooting

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Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed to be charged with involuntary manslaughter

Alice Gregory – 30 January 2023

It’s been more than a year since the tragic shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust, and Alec Baldwin and the film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, will face court on charges of involuntary manslaughter. To recap, the shooting took place in New Mexico in October 2021 while Baldwin was reportedly practising removing the gun from its holster. In doing so, the gun fired, and a bullet hit Rust director Joel Souza in the shoulder before fatally shooting Halyna Hutchins in the chest. Baldwin claims that the gun was ‘cold’ (safe to use) when handed to him, and insists that he did not pull the trigger. His lawyers have also argued that there was no way he could have known that there was live ammunition in the gun. Gutierrez-Reed, meanwhile, claims that she had not been told to check the gun, and that it was Baldwin’s duty (as a producer) to ensure the safety of the crew.

Since the fatal shooting, producers have been fined over $136,000 by the New Mexico Environment Department for violating safety protocols. Assistant director David Halls has also pleaded guilty to the negligent use of a deadly weapon and has been sentenced to six months of probation. The production company and Alec Baldwin have since settled with the husband of Halyna Hutchins following a wrongful death lawsuit, although the exact settlement has not been disclosed.

Which brings us to the latest charges. As things stand, the First Judicial District Attorney of New Mexico cites a lack of safety enforcement and reckless behaviour on set as sufficient evidence to charge Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed with involuntary manslaughter. In US law, this is the least serious form of homicide, defined as the unintentional killing of a person resulting from either recklessness, criminal negligence, or a low-level criminal act (misdemeanour). In New Mexico, an involuntary manslaughter charge carries a $5,000 fine and up to 18 months in jail. However, according to the state’s law, there are two kinds of involuntary manslaughter: one of which requires proof of negligence (i.e., the failure to exercise proper care), while the other requires evidence of reckless behaviour. The second charge includes a firearm enhancement, which would add five years to a sentence if found guilty. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will go to trial, and a jury will decide which involuntary manslaughter charge they might face.