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Why Was Alec Baldwin Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter?

On Thursday, January 19, 2023, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies issued a written statement announcing that Alec Baldwin, producer/star of the indie western Rust, is being charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The action comes nearly 15 months after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally killed by a firearm being used by Baldwin on the film’s Albuquerque set. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, is also facing the same charges.

“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the Rust film crew,” Carmack-Altwies wrote. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the Oscar-nominated actor expressed “shock and sadness” over Hutchins’ death. But the more questions that were asked about exactly what happened on the set that led to the tragedy, the more Baldwin seemed to back away from bearing any responsibility — despite the fact that he was the person holding the gun that killed the DP and injured director Joel Souza.

Though Baldwin had the gun in his hand, he insisted that he never pulled the trigger. He also claimed that while “someone” was responsible for Hutchins’ death, that someone was “not me.” And when Halyna’s widower, Matt Hutchins, filed a lawsuit against Rust producers, Baldwin’s reaction was to accuse the plaintiffs of attempting a money-grab from “deep-pocket litigants.”

In order to prove her case, it’s the DA’s job to show that Hutchins’ death wasn’t just a tragic accident. As TIME writes, Baldwin “could face at least five years in prison if a jury finds that the actions that led to Hutchins’ death were more than simple negligence.”

David Halls, the film’s assistant director, signed a plea deal with Carmack-Altwies’s office. In exchange for pleading guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon, Halls will face a suspended sentence and six months of probation. But Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor who was appointed to assist the DA in handling this case, isn’t letting Halls off the hook that easily.

“If any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” Reeb said. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the Rust film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”

You can read Carmack-Altwies’s full statement below.