Actor Alec Baldwin has been indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred during a rehearsal on a movie set in New Mexico in 2021. Special prosecutors presented their case to a grand jury in Santa Fe this week, resulting in the indictment. Baldwin's defense attorneys have stated that they will fight the charge and are looking forward to their day in court. The incident occurred while Baldwin was rehearsing a scene for the movie "Rust," in which he was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin has claimed that he pulled back the hammer, but not the trigger, and the gun fired. The indictment provides two alternative standards for pursuing an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin, one based on negligent use of a firearm and the other alleging felony misconduct with disregard for the safety of others.
The case has brought legal trouble for Baldwin, who has been a prominent figure in TV and movies for nearly four decades. Several civil lawsuits seeking compensation from Baldwin and the producers of "Rust" have been put on hold as prosecutors present their case to the grand jury. The charges against Baldwin have also raised questions about his responsibility and legal duty in handling the gun on the set. Previous missteps by prosecutors have been noted, and they will need to present more than just ballistics evidence to make a case against Baldwin.
The weapons supervisor on the movie set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case. Her trial is scheduled to begin in February. The assistant director and safety coordinator of "Rust," David Halls, pleaded no contest to unsafe handling of a firearm and received probation. An earlier FBI report found that the gun used in the shooting could go off without pulling the trigger if force was applied to an uncocked hammer, such as by dropping the weapon. The shooting has resulted in civil lawsuits and fines for workplace safety violations.
The filming of "Rust" has since resumed in Montana, with the widower of Halyna Hutchins serving as an executive producer. Baldwin's trial will likely be closely watched as it unfolds, with many seeking answers about what happened on the day of the shooting.