Just more than a week after announcing involuntary manslaughter charges, New Mexico prosecutors formally filed the criminal complaint against Alec Baldwin and his co-defendants over the deadly shooting on the set of “Rust.”
On Oct. 21, 2021, a gun that Baldwin handled during a rehearsal on the set of “Rust” went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Though the same projectile also wounded director Joel Souza, prosecutors declined to file charges in relation to that incident.
“Clearly Showed That the Weapon Could Not ‘Accidentally Fire'”
The statement of probable cause supporting criminal charges over the incident ripped Baldwin’s “inconsistent accounts” of how the gun “went off,” highlighting alleged discrepancies between his TV interviews and those with law enforcement.
“Baldwin later asserted that he never fired the revolver, and that it had just ‘…gone off…,'” the document states. “Baldwin made this assertion public as well, in multiple media interviews conducted after the shooting. Many media interviews and law enforcement interviews were conducted by Baldwin, and he displayed very inconsistent accounts of what happened during the incident when firing the gun that killed Hutchins.”
Baldwin denied having pulled the trigger in an interview with ABC News in December 2021.
“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them,” Baldwin insisted to interviewer George Stephanopoulos. “Never, never. That was the training that I had. You don’t point a gun at me and pull the trigger.”
The FBI contradicted that claim, finding that the gun could not have been fired without pulling the trigger. The probable cause statement reveals more about the bureau’s analysis.
“This involved trying to get the weapon to fire without the trigger being depressed; i.e. striking the hammer at various, multiple angles against a solid object, and striking the hammer of the revolver with an actual hammer/mallet,” the document says. “The revolver did not malfunction (i.e. fire when it should not/accidentally). This analysis clearly showed that the weapon could not ‘accidentally fire’; for the weapon to fire, the trigger had to have been depressed/pressed.”
Authorities also say that Baldwin’s claim was contradicted by photographic and video evidence from the inside the church, up to and moments before the shooting.
“The photos and videos clearly show Baldwin, multiple times, with his finger inside of the trigger guard and on the trigger, while manipulating the hammer and while drawing, pointing, and holstering the revolver,” the document states.
“Distracted and Constantly Talking on His Cell Phone”
Released on Tuesday afternoon, that and other documents filed by the district attorney’s office detail the two counts of that fourth-degree felony against Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. That charge carries a possible 18-month sentence and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law, but the firearm enhancement on one of them could carry a 5-year maximum sentence, if convicted on that top count.
In the probable cause statement supporting her charges, prosecutors say that Reed knew that Baldwin had only “minimal” training in firearms and needed more.
Prosecutors quoted her deposition statements to the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OSHA), which levied the maximum fine against the company behind Baldwin’s film, Rust Movie Productions, LLC.
“In interviews and depositions from OSHA, Reed stated she felt this training was very important for Baldwin in his character in ‘Rust,'” the probable cause statement reads. “During what was supposed to be an over one-hour training, Baldwin was distracted and consistently talking on his cell phone to his family. The actual training session only consisted of approximately 30 minutes due to Baldwin’s distractions.”
Reed’s attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion claimed that the statement “reveals that the district attorney has completely misunderstood the facts and has reached the wrong conclusions.”
“Hannah pleaded to provide more firearms training,” they wrote. “She was denied and brushed aside. Hannah asked to be able to perform her armorer duties more for safety reasons. She was told by production to focus on props. Hannah asked Halls if they could use a plastic gun for the rehearsal scene and he said no, wanting a ‘real gun.’ Hannah asked to be called back into the church if Baldwin was going to use the gun at all and Halls failed to do that.”
“Another Important Step”
When she first announced the charges on Jan. 19, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said: “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
She sounded a similar theme in a brief statement on Tuesday.
“Today we have taken another important step in securing justice for Halyna Hutchins,” Carmack-Altwies said.
The documents filed by her office include criminal information and statements of probable cause against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, a statement of joinder for both of their cases, and criminal information against assistant director David Halls, who signed a plea deal for negligent use of a deadly weapon.
The special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case, Andrea Reeb, argued that “Hutchins would be alive today” if not for the actions of Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed and Halls.
A judge still needs to approve Halls’s plea agreement, which is not yet available. It is unclear when it will become available.
That agreement called for Hall to serve a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
When the charges were first announced, Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas, from the firm Quinn Emanuel, asserted that the charging decision “distorts” Hutchins’ 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,” Nikas said earlier in the month. “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.”
Update—Jan. 31 at 5:10 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include more information from court papers.
Update—Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. ET: Reed’s attorneys statement has been added, with additional context.
Read the probable cause filing below:
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