Alec Baldwin will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins. He faces up to five years in jail if convicted.
While filming “Rust,” a Western that Baldwin was starring in and producing, in New Mexico, Baldwin, 64, was holding a gun and rehearsing a scene when the weapon discharged, killing cinematographer. Director Joel Souza was injured.
The special prosecutor in the case, Andrea Reeb, said in a statement:
“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 and his lawyer were shocked and will fight the charges aggressively. They blamed others for the shooting.
“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,” they said in a statement. “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.”
One must wonder if how he handled himself after the shooting played into the charges. His wife shared clips of their fun times with their children, and he gave interviews refusing to admit he held any responsibility.
Professor Jonathan Turley said in October 2021 that he could face a charge of involuntary manslaughter, but it would be better handled in civil court. He does also face civil lawsuits. There is no evidence Baldwin knew the gun was loaded and he had a reasonable expectation that it wasn’t.
Unfortunately for him, he was also the producer, not just an actor, and it opened him up to the charges.
THE CHARGES AND THE JAIL TIME
“New Mexico has a provision that allows “involuntary manslaughter” charges for “the commission of a lawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.” If there was a pattern of neglect, including prior discharges from these prop weapons, the producers could be investigated and charged with involuntary manslaughter. Such a charge is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico, with a penalty of 18 months jail time and up to $5,000 in fines,” Turley wrote.
However, he faces two charges of involuntary manslaughter. The second charge puts him in more jeopardy.
“The second charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act. This charge must prove there was more than simple negligence involved in a death. This second charge is also punishable with up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. This particular charge includes a firearm enhancement, which means there’s an added penalty that is mandatory because a firearm was involved. The enhancement includes a mandatory five years in jail,” SFGate reports.
In January, he will appear in court and a judge will decide if there is probably cause.
Whatever is justice, let justice be done.