17 October 2023

Prosecutors seeking to recharge Alec Baldwin over fatal shooting on film set

17 October 2023

Special prosecutors have said they are seeking to recharge actor Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter over the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of a Western film in New Mexico two years ago.

New Mexico-based prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said they will present evidence to a grand jury within the next two months, saying that “additional facts” have come to light over the October 2021 fatal shooting on the set of Rust during filming on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Baldwin, a co-producer of the movie, was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on the film’s set outside Santa Fe when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer – but not the trigger – and the gun fired.

Special prosecutors in April initially dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin, saying at the time that they were informed the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned.

They later pivoted and began weighing whether to refile a charge against Baldwin after receiving a new analysis of the gun.

The gun analysis from experts in ballistics and forensic testing based in Arizona and New Mexico relied on replacement parts to reassemble the gun fired by Baldwin – after parts of the pistol were broken during earlier testing by the FBI.

The report examined the gun and markings it left on a spent cartridge to conclude that the trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.

The analysis led by Lucien Haag of Forensic Science Services in Arizona stated that although Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, “given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver”.

The weapons supervisor on the film set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case.

Her trial is scheduled to begin in February.

In March, Rust assistant director and safety co-ordinator David Halls pleaded no contest to a conviction for unsafe handling of a firearm and received a suspended sentence of six months of probation.

He agreed to co-operate in the investigation of the shooting.

The 2021 shooting resulted in a series of civil lawsuits centred on accusations that the defendants were lax with safety standards.

The cases have included wrongful death claims filed by members of Ms Hutchins’ family.

Baldwin and other defendants have disputed accusations they were lax with safety standards.

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