Actor Alec Baldwin and gunfighter Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have been charged with the manslaughter of cinematographer Halyne Hutchins, who was killed on the set of the 2021 western "Rust." The charges were announced by prosecutor Mary Carmack-Altwies, who stated that Baldwin was charged with disregarding safety rules when handling the revolver that fired the fatal shot.
Charged with Negligence and Recklessness
Baldwin has denied responsibility for the shooting, claiming that he never pulled the trigger and that it was the job of Gutierrez-Reed and other gun experts to make sure the firearm was unloaded.
However, the most severe sentence, which carries a five-year prison term, would require prosecutors to convince a jury that Baldwin was not only negligent, but also reckless in his use of the firearm. Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for Carmack-Altwies' office, stated that "The evidence and the facts speak for themselves." “In New Mexico, no one is above the law and justice will be served,” Mary Carmack-Altwies, the Santa Fe County district attorney, said in a statement on Tuesday, reports NY Times.
Failed Precautions Lead to Tragedy
Legal analysts predict that prosecutors will struggle to win convictions without evidence, as Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed knew there was ammunition on the set but failed to take the necessary precautions.
Film industry-wide firearms safety guidelines instruct actors to assume firearms are loaded with blanks and to rely on professional gun handlers to ensure the firearm is safe. If Baldwin had performed mandatory safety checks with Gutierrez-Reed and not pointed the weapon at Hutchins, "the tragedy would not have occurred," said lawyer Richard Shilling.
Shilling added, "This reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol directly caused the fatal shooting." “Regardless, Reed had a duty to show whomever she handed the gun to, whether Halls or Baldwin, a safe gun by taking out each bullet and showing them each one was a dummy,” Mr.
Shilling wrote in the probable cause statement. “Yet, she failed to do this and did not assert herself when it didn’t happen”.
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