Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has been formally charged with involuntary manslaughter over the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the western film Rust.
Baldwin has vowed to fight the charges against him, with his lawyer calling the case a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.
Halyna Hutchins, 42, died after a prop gun held by the 64-year-old star was discharged during rehearsals for the movie in October 2021.
Her family welcomed the charges when they were announced earlier in January, saying Baldwin showed “conscious disregard for human life”.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for weapons on the Rust set, has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter, while assistant director Dave Halls has signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
The decision on charges was made about three months after prosecutors received the final report on the shooting from the Santa Fe sheriff’s office, following a lengthy investigation also involving the FBI.
Special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said at the time: “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.
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“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.”
Santa Fe’s district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies added: “No one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
Baldwin and the Rust production company reached a civil settlement for an undisclosed amount with Hutchins’s family in October and announced that production of the film would resume this year. After the criminal charges were announced, the film’s lawyer confirmed Baldwin would remain in the lead role in the film.
Hutchins’s husband Matt will also remain executive producer – and Joel Souza, who was injured in the shooting, is returning as director.
A number of other lawsuits have also been filed in relation to the shooting.
Hutchins died on the set outside Sante Fe, New Mexico, when a revolver Baldwin was rehearsing with, fired with a live bullet.
Baldwin has denied responsibility for the shooting – saying live ammunition should never have been allowed on set and weapons handlers were responsible for firearm safety.
An investigation by Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has yet to reveal how live rounds got onto the film set in the first place.
Source : Sky News