Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ shooting: New Mexico prosecutor on Thursday to uncover possible charges in fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins

SANTA FE, NM — A Santa Fe district attorney will announce Thursday whether charges will be filed in actor Alec Baldwin’s fatal shooting of a cameraman in 2021 during a rehearsal of the western Rust.

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said a decision would be announced Thursday morning in a statement and on social media with no public appearance by prosecutors.

“The announcement will be a solemn occasion consistent with the office’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the trial and respecting the victim’s family,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being shot while setting up a scene at the ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 21, 2021. Baldwin aimed a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director, Joel Souza.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death, described “a degree of neglect” on the film set. However, he left decisions about possible criminal charges to prosecutors after he presented the results of a year-long investigation in October. This report did not specify how live ammunition ended up on the film set.

Carmack-Altwies took control of the investigation and received an emergency request for $300,000 to have the state pay for a special prosecutor, a special counsel, and other experts and staff.

Baldwin – best known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October and his impression of ex-President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live – has called the Hutchins killing a “tragic accident”.

He has attempted to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and delivering the loaded gun that was handed to him on set. Baldwin, also co-producing Rust, said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while he was working on camera angles during rehearsals for a scene with Hutchins, he pointed the gun in her direction and backed away, releasing the hammer of the gun, which discharged.

The New Mexico Medical Investigator’s Office, after completing an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports, determined the shooting to be an accident.

The New Mexico Occupational Safety and Health Bureau imposed the maximum penalty on Rust Movie Productions based on a damning account of safety deficiencies, including testimonies that production executives took limited or no action to fix two on-set blank cartridge misfires prior to the fatal shot.

Rust Movie Productions continues to question the basis of a $137,000 fine from regulators who say on-set production executives failed to follow industry firearm safety protocols.

Gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who oversaw the firearms on set, was the subject of much investigation into the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. A lawyer for Gutierrez Reed said the gunsmith did not put a live cartridge in the gun that killed Hutchins and believes it was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they found no evidence of this.

Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition on the film set on the outskirts of Santa Fe — a mix of blanks, dummy cartridges and what appeared to be live cartridges. Industry experts have said live rounds should never take place on set.

In April 2022, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department released a wealth of files, including lapel camera video of the mortally wounded Hutchins slipping into and out of consciousness upon the arrival of an evacuation helicopter. Witness interrogations, email threads, text conversations, ammo stashes, and hundreds of photos rounded out this collection of evidence.

State safety officials at the workplace said immediate gun safety concerns were addressed when Rust halted filming and that a return to filming in New Mexico would be accompanied by new safety inspections.

The Hutchins family — widower Matthew Hutchins and son Andros — have settled a lawsuit against the producers as part of an agreement aimed at resuming filming with Matthew’s involvement as executive producer.

“Rust” was beset by controversy from the start in early October 2021. Seven crew members left the set just hours before the fatal shooting amid disagreements over working conditions.

Hutchins’ death impacted negotiations on safety provisions in film crews’ union contracts with Hollywood producers, and prompted other filmmakers to choose computer-generated images of gunshots rather than real guns with blanks to minimize risk.

Copyright © 2023 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ shooting: New Mexico prosecutor on Thursday to uncover possible charges in fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins

Laura Coffey

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