Alec Baldwin was charged with manslaughter

Alec Baldwin AFP
Alec Baldwin's Firearm Enhancement Charge Dropped

In the 2021 Western film “Rust,” Academy Award-nominated actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with manslaughter after a fatal incident wherein he discharged his gun accidentally, resulting in the death of an innocent bystander.

If found guilty, Baldwin could spend up to five years in jail following a declaration from the US Attorney General on Tuesday.

Mary Carmack-Altoys, the Prosecutor of Santa Fe County, declared that Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the gun handler in the film, was also facing identical charges. She firmly declared “No one is above justice and law will be served”.

On the 21st of October 2021, a tragic accident took place on the set of “Rust” at a ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin pulled the trigger of what was supposed to be an unloaded gun with only blank sonic bullets; however, it contained one lethal projectile that hit 42-year-old Helena Hutchins and caused her death while director Joel Souza sustained severe injuries.

The repercussions of this tragic event reverberated throughout Hollywood, the US and beyond. It sparked an increased urgency to ensure a complete ban on weapons in any filming locations.

Conviction and penalties

If Baldwin and Reid are convicted of manslaughter, they could face up to 18 months in prison; however, if the court finds them guilty of negligence, each may receive a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

On Tuesday, the public prosecutor’s report revealed that during his firearms training session, the actor was seen to be preoccupied and chatting with family members on his phone. This distracted behavior caused him to terminate the lesson prematurely; although it should have gone on for at least an hour as per protocol set by the movie arms instructor.

On January 20th, the plaintiff declared her plans to sue the actor. However, Luc Nikas – representing their defendant – publicly decried it as a “terrible judicial error”, adding that there was no possible way Baldwin expected his prop gun to have live ammunition in or around it on set.

The acclaimed actor, who found great success through his involvement in the “30 Rock” series, vehemently maintained that he was unaware of the fact that the gun held real ammunition. He had been told it was safe to use beforehand.

Charges and lawsuits

David Hales, the assistant director who supplied Baldwin with a gun he guaranteed as safe, has been charged with negligence involving a deadly weapon – charges that unfortunately he chose not to dispute.

Ever since the incident, Baldwin has maintained his innocence by claiming that he did not shoot. However, this assertion is met with doubt from other experts in the field.

Last August, the star predicted that no one would be charged regarding the case, proclaiming in a CNN interview that he had employed his own private investigator to investigate who was at fault.

After the incident, a group of individuals involved with the production team filed multiple civil cases to seek justice.

In October 2022, Baldwin announced a deal with Halina Hutchins’ family: the civil lawsuit she filed against him would be dropped. The confidential amount of their agreement was not disclosed to the public.

It was declared back then that production of the film would resume come January 2023.