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15 April 2024

Charges against Alec Baldwin in 'Rust' shooting to be dropped, lawyers say

By Reuters

New Mexico prosecutors have decided to drop criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western movie "Rust" in 2021, Baldwin's lawyers said on Thursday.
"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," Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement.
Baldwin, 65, was charged in January with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Hutchins' death and the injury of "Rust" director Joel Souza, who was also shot.
The actor was accused of showing a "reckless" disregard for safety in Hutchins' death. He pleaded not guilty in February after prosecutors downgraded the seriousness of the charges, reducing the potential prison time.
The two special prosecutors handling the case in New Mexico's First Judicial District did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The news arrived on the same day that Baldwin and other cast members resumed filming the movie in Montana, according to the production company. Baldwin settled a lawsuit in October with the cinematographer's husband, Matt Hutchins, in a deal that made Hutchins an executive producer on the movie.
The shooting occurred during a rehearsal on Oct. 21, 2021, when a Colt .45 revolver Baldwin was pointing toward the camera went off, killing Hutchins and wounding Souza.
Investigators have not been able to determine how live rounds made it on set.
The first assistant director, Dave Halls, was sentenced last month to a suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. Prosecutors had said he was responsible for set safety.
The movie's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, also faces manslaughter charges and has pleaded not guilty.
Baldwin had denied responsibility, arguing that Gutierrez-Reed failed to check the rounds and that Halls incorrectly told him the revolver was a "cold gun," an industry term meaning it was either unloaded or contained dummy rounds.
Gutierrez-Reed has blamed the shooting on other factors including possible sabotage, Baldwin's lack of training and a failure by Halls and Baldwin to ask her for extra checks.
In a statement on Thursday, her lawyers, Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion, said, "We fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated."
Baldwin's lawyers and prosecutors had been discussing the charges ahead of a May 3 hearing, when a New Mexico judge was set to decide whether Baldwin should stand trial, according to a person familiar with the talks.