Why prosecutor says she's pursuing criminal charges, regardless of if "Rust" shooting was accidental
Shortly after announcing involuntary manslaughter charges against actor Alec Baldwin and "Rust" film armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies outlined why the deadly on-set shooting could result in criminal charges regardless of whether it was an accident.
"Just because it is an accident doesn't mean that it's not criminal," Carmack-Altwies said in an interview with CNN.
"Our involuntary manslaughter statute covers unintentional killings, unintentional homicides," the district attorney continued. "Unintentional means they didn't mean to do it, they didn't have the intent to kill, but it happened anyway — and it happened because of more than mere negligence, because they didn't exercise due caution or circumspection, and that's what happened here."
Alec Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said New Mexico prosecutors' intention to charge the actor with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal "Rust" set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is a "terrible miscarriage of justice."
“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. 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,” Nikas said.
11:57 a.m. ET, January 19, 2023
"Rust" had a "really fast and loose set," district attorney says
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told CNN why prosecutors believed there was probable cause to charge actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed with involuntary manslaughter in the deadly "Rust" movie set shooting.
There were a number of contributing factors to the decision, she told CNN's Josh Campbell, including "a lack of safety and safety standards on that set, that there were live rounds on set; they were mixed in with regular dummy rounds."
"Nobody was checking those, or least they weren't checking them consistently. And then they somehow got loaded into a gun, handed off to Alec Baldwin; he didn't check it, he didn't do any of the things that he was supposed to do to make sure that he was safe or that anyone around him was safe. And then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and he pulled the trigger," she said.
"This was a really fast and loose set," she said, "and ... nobody was doing their job. There were three people, that if they had done their job that day, this tragedy wouldn't have happened — and that's David Halls and Hannah Gutierrez Reed and Alec Baldwin. If they had just done their basic duties, we wouldn't be standing here."
Attorney for "Rust" armorer calls charges "absolutely wrong"
From CNN’s Julia Jones
The attorney for "Rust" set armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed issued a statement condemning the decision to charge her with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
“We were expecting the charges but they’re absolutely wrong as to Hannah - we expect that she will be found not guilty by a jury and she did not commit manslaughter," attorney Jason Bowles told CNN in a statement. "She has been emotional about the tragedy but has committed no crime.”
11:45 a.m. ET, January 19, 2023
"What this involuntary manslaughter charge comes down to is negligence," CNN analyst says
CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams said prosectors decided to charge actor Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins due to negligence.
"I'm not surprised at all about these charges, and particularly if you separate Alec Baldwin the actor from Alec Baldwin the producer. It would have been hard to see him charged with a crime in his capacity as an actor here. But he's being charged in effect as somebody who was responsible for what happened on the set. And what this involuntary manslaughter charge comes down to is negligence," Williams told CNN's Kate Bolduan.
The law defines that "as duty of care that a reasonable person in a similar situation would have provided," he said.
It requires prosecutors to review incidents that have happened on other movie sets, he said.
But Williams said "this wasn't just a simple accident that happened on a movie set, at least according to the prosecutor, allegedly. What this is was such a failure from the leadership on the movie set that led to an incredibly tragic death."
11:49 a.m. ET, January 19, 2023
The assistant director of "Rust" signed a plea agreement related to the deadly set shooting
From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph
Assistant director David Halls has signed a plea agreement for the charge of "negligent use of a deadly weapon," according to the New Mexico prosecutor who announced charges in the fatal "Rust" film set shooting Thursday.
The terms of that deal include six months of probation and a suspended sentence, according to a statement from New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies' office.
The statement added that charges will not be filed against film director Joel Souza.
CNN has reached out for comment from actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who face involuntary manslaughter charges, and will reach out to Halls and Souza.
11:31 a.m. ET, January 19, 2023
Armorer in "Rust" film shooting will also be charged with involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors say
From CNN's Paul Vercammen
In addition to actor Alec Baldwin, "Rust" movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the film’s set in 2021, according to prosecutors.
"'Rust' actor and producer Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the film’s Santa Fe County set in 2021,” New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced in statement Thursday morning.
Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will be "charged in the alternative" with two counts of manslaughter, meaning a jury will decide not only whether the two are guilty, but also under which legal definition of involuntary manslaughter.
In either case, a conviction is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine, according to the district attorney.
But one definition would involve a firearm enhancement, or added mandatory penalty, because a firearm was involved. In that case, the crime could be punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.
The district attorney said no charges will be filed specific to the non-fatal shooting of the film's director, Joel Souza.
“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,” Carmack-Altwies said in the statement. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
CNN has reached out to Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed for comment.
11:08 a.m. ET, January 19, 2023
Baldwin has placed responsibility for the shooting on crew members. Their attorneys say he's deflecting blame
From CNN's Travis Caldwell and Paul Vercammen
In an interview with CNN in August 2022, actor Alec Baldwin placed responsibility for the tragedy on Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who served as the armorer and props assistant on the film, and assistant director Dave Halls, who handed him the gun. In November, Baldwin filed suit against the two and other individuals associated with the film, according to a cross-complaint obtained by CNN.
Through their respective attorneys, both Gutierrez Reed and Halls maintained they were not at fault and accused Baldwin of deflecting blame onto others. Gutierrez Reed also sued the movie’s gun and ammunition supplier and its founder – who deny wrongdoing – and alleged a cache of dummy ammunition was sold with live rounds mixed in.
In October 2022, the family of Halyna Hutchins — the film cinematographer who was struck and killed by a live round of ammunition fired from a prop gun — reached an undisclosed settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Baldwin and others involved in producing the film.