The film’s armorer will also be charged. Baldwin was rehearsing with a gun that went off, killing a cinematographer. Live ammunition was not supposed to be on the set.
Prosecutors in New Mexico announced on Thursday that Alec Baldwin, who handled the gun that discharged on the set of “Rust,” killing the movie’s cinematographer, will be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors said they would charge Mr. Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, saying that he had a duty to ensure the gun and the ammunition were properly checked and that he should never have pointed it at anyone. “You should not point a gun at someone that you’re not willing to shoot,” the district attorney for Santa Fe County, Mary Carmack-Altwies, said in an interview. “That goes to basic safety standards.”
Mr. Baldwin, 64, has been a household name for decades, hosting the Oscars, playing Jack Donaghy in “30 Rock” and portraying former President Donald J. Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
Mr. Baldwin has long denied culpability for the “Rust” shooting, noting that he had been told the weapon he was rehearsing with did not contain live ammunition. During a television interview last year, Baldwin said, “Someone is responsible for what happened, but I know it’s not me.” In addition, he stated that he was following directions on where to point the gun when it went off, killing the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.
In a statement on Thursday, a lawyer for Mr. Baldwin, Luke Nikas, said:“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’s 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.”
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer who was responsible for the guns on set and loaded the gun that day, will also be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The film’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, who handed Mr. Baldwin the gun, agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon, in exchange for a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
During an interview with detectives, Alec Baldwin said that the gun “should’ve been a cold gun with no rounds inside.” “If any one of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today,” Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the district attorney, said in a statement. “It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
Mr. Baldwin, both a producer and a lead actor in “Rust,” was holding the gun that killed Ms. Hutchins and wounded its director, Joel Souza. If convicted of the more serious manslaughter charge, which includes a firearm enhancement, Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Gutierrez-Reed would face a mandatory five-year sentence. The other manslaughter charge carries a sentence of up to 18 months.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the authorities found five additional live rounds on the set, including on top of the cart where props were kept and in a belt that Mr. Baldwin was wearing as a costume piece. But the investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office did not answer a key question of the case: how live ammunition ended up on a movie set.
The detective questioned Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on “Rust,” about the ammunition inside the gun that killed the cinematographer.
In statements to reporters and in interviews with investigators, some of the individuals who supplied and handled guns and ammunition for the film pointed fingers at their colleagues.
Several lawsuits have been filed in the aftermath of the tragedy, including those filed by crew members accusing the production of not adhering to safety protocols.
During interviews with the sheriff’s office, some crew members described a lack of consistent meetings devoted to on-set safety. The night before the shooting, most of the camera crew had quit over complaints about overnight lodging and other concerns; in an email to other people on set informing them he was leaving, Lane Luper, the head of the camera department, wrote that the filming of gunfight scenes was played “very fast and loose,” citing two accidental weapons discharges.
“When I spoke with Detective Alexandria Hancock following the shooting, I informed her that I was not responsible.”
Ms. Carmack-Altwies said an F.B.I. analysis of the gun showed “conclusively” that the trigger had been pulled.
She filled two roles on the “Rust” set – as armorer and props assistant – which made it difficult for her to focus fully on her job as an armorer, according to a lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed, 25.
Ms. Gutierrez-Reed has also accused Seth Kenney, the primary supplier of guns and ammunition, of being responsible for the shooting, alleging in a lawsuit against him and his company that the supply he sent to the set had mixed live ammunition in with dummy rounds — inert cartridges that are used on film sets to resemble real ammunition. She said in an interview with investigators that she had checked the gun and all six cartridges she loaded in Mr. Baldwin’s gun that day, but she also remarked to investigators, “I wish I would’ve checked it more.”
Mr. Kenney has said he checked all of the ammunition he provided to the production to ensure they were not live, saying in a statement that handling the guns and ammunition on set was Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s responsibility.
Alec Baldwin was photographed by a crime scene technician shortly after Halyna Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, was fatally shot on the “Rust” movie set. Court documents state that Halls’ lawyer had previously said it was not his responsibility to ensure the gun was safe to handle because he called out that it was “cold” on set that day.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Matthew Hutchins against the production of “Rust” was settled last year. As part of the agreement, Mr. Hutchins will become the executive producer of “Rust,” which had been set to begin filming this month. Those plans were not immediately affected by the planned charges.
A lawyer for Mr. Hutchins, Brian J. Panish, said in a statement that he agreed with the decision to bring criminal charges.
It is a comfort to the family that no one is above the law in New Mexico, Mr. Panish said. It is our hope that the justice system will work to protect the public and hold those who break the law accountable for their actions.”