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20 April 2023

Case against Alec Baldwin over fatal Rust shooting dropped, say lawyers

20 April 2023

The case against Alec Baldwin over the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has been dismissed, his lawyers said.

The Hollywood actor’s lawyers said they were “pleased” with the decision and encouraged a proper investigation into the “tragic incident”.

Baldwin had faced two counts of involuntary manslaughter over the shooting on the New Mexico set of the Rust movie in October 2021.

We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident

The incident occurred after a prop gun held by Baldwin went off, killing Ms Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

The actor previously pleaded not guilty to both charges of involuntary manslaughter.

A statement from his lawyers, shared with the PA news agency on Thursday, said: “We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.”

The announcement comes less than two weeks before a preliminary hearing in the case in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where it was to be determined whether there was enough evidence to take it to trial.

Santa Fe district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and a special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, had previously stepped down from the case.

Their decisions came after much back-and-forth between the two sides, with Baldwin’s lawyers arguing that Ms Reeb’s involvement was “unconstitutional” due to her elected position in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

In turn the DA’s office had accused Baldwin of using his “fancy attorneys” to “distract from the gross negligence” in the case.

The actor was formally charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter by the DA in February, alongside the film’s armourer Hannah Gutierrez Reed.

The first charge required proof of underlying negligence and included the misdemeanour charge of negligent use of a firearm.

The second charge included a firearm enhancement, which would have made the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.

The enhancement was later dropped by the DA after Baldwin’s lawyers argued that it was “unlawful”, and said prosecutors had committed an “unconstitutional and elementary legal error”.

In the statement of probable cause, filed alongside the charges, the DA accused Baldwin of showing “wilful disregard” for the safety of others in the days leading up to the shooting.

His “reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol” directly caused Ms Hutchins’ death, the DA had alleged.

Baldwin also faces a separate civil lawsuit, filed on February 9 by the family of Ms Hutchins.

The family are suing the actor and the Rust movie production company for alleged battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and loss of consortium.

Loss of consortium is a claim which seeks to recover compensation for damage to certain relationships that are mutually dependent.

Thursday’s development coincided with the resumption of production on the movie, which has begun again in the US state of Montana.

Legal representatives for Rust Movie Productions stressed that all use of working weapons or ammunition is, “and always has been”, prohibited on set.

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