Alec Baldwin Charged Involuntary Manslaughter

By Linda Wang

Humor Editor

On the set of the movie Rust near Santa Fe, NM, on Oct. 21, 2021, actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halya Hutchins while practicing for a scene. Fifteen months after the tragedy, both Baldwin and Rust’s film armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, each face charges of involuntary manslaughter.

A combination of a lack of safety standards and unfortunate coincidences ultimately led to Hutchins’s death. There were live rounds on set, which no one had cleared during checks, mixed in with regular dummy rounds. Gutierrez Reed claimed that she believed she bought only dummy ammunition, but no official confirmed this to be true. Baldwin was unaware that his practice gun contained live ammunition, as he did not check the loadout before practicing. The film’s assistant director, David Halls, handed Baldwin the gun while commenting “cold gun” –– implying the gun was safe for use. 

Baldwin also says he never pulled the trigger, which an FBI report authenticated. The report noted that “the gun eventually malfunctioned during testing after internal parts fractured, which caused the gun to go off in the cocked position without pulling the trigger.” While aiming at a camera lens, Baldwin’s fatal shot that hit Hutchins in the chest also wounded Rust director Joel Souza. Overall, producers for Rust faced fines of 136,000 dollars for their negligence in following proper safety protocol.

Consequences for involuntary manslaughter usually amount to up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to 5000 dollars, but the involvement of a firearm in Baldwin’s case could mean up to five years in prison. Prosecutors already charged Halls with a misdemeanor of negligent use of a deadly weapon, to which Halls pleaded guilty. He will serve six months of probation. Meanwhile, Baldwin did not anticipate his charges, having previously settled an undisclosed agreement with the late Hutchins’s family. Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas declared in a statement that Baldwin’s charge “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.” 

(Sources: CNN, NBC News, ABC News, BBC News)

Categories: National, News

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