SANTA FE, NM (AP)

Actor Alec Baldwin and a weapons specialist will be charged with involuntary manslaughter fatal shooting of a cinematographer on set in New MexicoProsecutors announced Thursday, citing “criminal negligence of safety.”

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Cormack-Altwis issued a statement announcing the charges against Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who wielded the weapons on the set of the Western movie Rust.

Galina Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during a rehearsal at a ranch outside Santa Fe on October 21, 2021. Baldwin pointed a gun at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza.

Assistant Principal David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, signed a plea deal to plead guilty to reckless use of a deadly weapon, the district attorney’s office said.

Manslaughter can include killing that occurs while the defendant is doing something lawful but dangerous and acting carelessly or recklessly.

The charge is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law. The charges also include a provision that could result in a mandatory five-year prison sentence because the crime was committed with a gun.

Carmack-Altwice said charges will be filed by the end of January and that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reid will be issued summonses to appear in court. She said prosecutors will forego a grand jury and rely on a judge to determine whether there is probable cause to proceed to trial.

Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor in the case, called it a “pattern of criminal disregard for security” on the set.

“If any of those three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Galina Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” said Reeb, who was also recently sworn in as a state GOP legislator.

Baldwin’s attorney said the allegations represented a “horrible miscarriage of justice.”

The actor “had no reason to believe that there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the set. He relied on the professionals he worked with to assure him that there were no live rounds in the gun. We will fight these charges and win,” said Luke Nikos.

Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney said the charges were “the result of a grossly flawed investigation and an inaccurate understanding of all the facts.”

“We intend to uncover the full truth and believe a jury will exonerate Hannah,” Jason Bowles said.

It was unclear when Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reid might have to appear in state court in Santa Fe after the charges are filed. Defendants may participate remotely in some initial trials or request that their first appearance be waived.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death, described “some neglect” on the set. But after announcing the results of the year-long investigation in October, he reserved decisions on potential criminal charges from the prosecutor’s office. This report does not specify how the ammunition ended up on the set.

Baldwin — known for his roles on “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” — called the killing a “tragic accident.”

He sought to clear his name by suing the people involved in the processing and delivery of the loaded weapons. Baldwin, who also co-produced the movie Rust, said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on angles with Hutchins, he pointed the gun in her direction, pulled back and pulled the trigger of the weapon, which discharged.

The New Mexico Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the shooting an accident after completing an autopsy and reviewing law enforcement reports.

The New Mexico Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health has imposed the maximum fine on Rust Movie Productions amid scathing reports of safety violations, including evidence that production managers took little or no action to address two on-set blank cartridge misfires before the fatal shooting. shot. .

Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the basis of a $137,000 fine imposed by regulators who say production managers on set failed to follow standard industry protocols for gun safety.

The gunman who looked after the firearms on set, Gutierrez-Reed, has been the subject of increased attention in the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney said she did not fire a live round into the gun that killed Hutchins and believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they found no evidence of this.

Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition on the movie set on the outskirts of Santa Fe – a mix of blank rounds, dummy rounds and what appeared to be live rounds. Industry experts say live tours should never be on set.

The Hutchins family — widower Matthew Hutchins and son Andros — settled their lawsuit against the producers in a deal that will see filming resume with Matthew Hutchins serving as an executive producer.

Rust has been mired in controversy since its inception in early October 2021. Seven members of the film crew walked off the set a few hours before filming amid disagreements over working conditions.

Criminal cases were rarely brought in connection with a death on the set.

A district attorney in North Carolina cited negligence as a factor but decided to drop charges in the 1993 death of Brandon Lee while filming a scene in the movie The Raven. The son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee was injured by a .44-caliber bullet from a gun that was supposed to fire a blank cartridge.

Most recently, filmmaker Randall Miller pleaded guilty to manslaughter and criminal trespass in the 2014 death of assistant cameraman Sarah Jones, who was hit by a train on the set of “Northern Rider” in rural Georgia. The production did not have permission to be on the railroad tracks, and Miller served half of his two-year sentence.

Hutchins’ death has already affected negotiations over security clauses in the contracts of union film crews with Hollywood producers. The footage also prompted other filmmakers to minimize the risk by using computer-generated images of gunfire instead of real guns with blank rounds.

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Associated Press writers Susan Montoya in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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