Alec Baldwin’s Charges In The Rust Shooting Death Are Being Dropped

The actor faced a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail if convicted, and the case could still be picked up again in the future.

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Alec Baldwin will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the death of cinematogr...
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On Jan. 19, Alec Baldwin was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust in October 2021. However, three months later, the charges are being dropped just two weeks before a mini-trial was set to begin. As reported by Deadline on April 20, special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis are expected to file paperwork dismissing the charges against Baldwin without prejudice, which means the case could potentially be picked back up in the future as they still plan to investigate the events of the shooting.

“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” Baldwin’s lawyers Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement to Variety. The actor could have faced up to 18 months in prison if convicted.

Baldwin’s co-defendant, Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is still facing the same involuntary manslaughter charges. For the first charge, prosecutors will need to prove underlying negligence, carrying a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The second charge will require prosecutors to prove that there was more than simple negligence.

Previously, the Santa Fe District Attorney formally downgraded the second of Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed’s charges, removing a firearm enhancement from the charge that would have given them a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison if convicted. Lawyers argued in a motion filed on Feb. 10 that the second charge was based on a New Mexico law that was passed months after Hutchins’ death and should not apply to the two.

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The initial criminal charges were announced on Thursday, Jan. 19, by Carmack-Altwies. “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,” she said in a statement on Jan. 17. “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,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb added in a statement. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the Rust film set.”

Baldwin’s camp pledged to fight against the charges. “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Luke Nikas said in a statement to Bustle. “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.”

On the day of the incident, Baldwin, who is both the star and producer of the movie, held a supposed prop gun when it unexpectedly discharged on set while they were shooting at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It killed the 42-year-old cinematographer and injured 48-year-old director Joel Souza. Months later, in December 2021, Baldwin spoke about the accident to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, telling him that he “didn’t pull the trigger.” “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never,” he said. ABC, however, obtained a forensic report from the FBI that says the gun “could not have gone off without the pull of a trigger.”

“The gun was supposed to be empty. I was told it was an empty gun,” the It’s Complicated star continued in the interview. “Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.” He later added, “Someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who that is, but it’s not me.”

Rust’s assistant director David Halls signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. After the shooting, Halls told authorities he had not properly inspected all the rounds before signing off on its use.

In February 2022, Hutchins’ family sued Baldwin and the film’s producers for wrongful death, but it was settled in October. Hutchins’ husband, Matthew, now serves as an executive producer of the film. “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he said in a statement last October. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”

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