SANTA FE, NM — A district attorney in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will announce on Thursday whether charges will be brought against American actor Alec Baldwin who fatally shot the cinematographer while filming in 2021 of a rehearsal of the western film “Rust”.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said on social media that a decision will be announced Thursday morning.
“The announcement will be made under the office’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the judicial process, while respecting the victim’s family,” said Heather Brewer, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being hit by a gunshot while setting up a scene at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021. Alec Baldwin was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the shot went off, fatally hitting him and injuring the director, Joel Souza.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Ms Hutchins’ death, described “a degree of negligence” on set. Its report filed in October, after a year of investigation, did not specify how live ammunition ended up on the set.
Baldwin, known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impersonation of former US President Donald Trump on the TV show “Saturday Night Live “, described the fatal shot reaching Ms Hutchins from a “tragic accident”.
He sought to clear his name by suing those involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun given to him on set. Baldwin, also co-producer of the movie “Rust,” says he was told the gun was safe.
In his lawsuit, Baldwin alleges that while he was working on camera angles with Hutchins during rehearsal of a scene, he pointed the gun in his direction and lowered the lever of the gun, which swung open. is suddenly discharged.
The New Mexico Medical Examiner’s Office determined the fatal shooting was an accident after the autopsy.
The New Mexico Office of Occupational Health and Safety imposed the maximum fine on Rust Movie Productions, however, based on a scathing account of safety failures, including testimony that managers of production took little or no action to settle two blank ammunition misfires on set before the fatal shot.
Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the basis for a $137,000 fine imposed by regulators who say on-set production managers failed to follow industry-standard weapons safety protocols fire.
The gunsmith who oversaw the firearms on set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, was particularly targeted by the investigation, along with an independent ammunition supplier. A lawyer for Gutierrez Reed said his client did not put a live ammunition in the gun that killed Hutchins, and believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities have found no such evidence.
Investigators had found 500 rounds on the film set outside Santa Fe – a mix of blanks, dummy bullets and what appeared to be live ammunition. Industry experts argue, however, that there should never be live ammunition on a film set.
Ms. Hutchins’ family — widower Matthew Hutchins and son Andros — have settled a lawsuit against the producers under an agreement to allow filming to resume with Matthew as executive producer.
The film was the subject of disputes from the beginning of October 2021. In particular, seven members of the team left the film set hours before the fatal shooting due to a discord over working conditions.