Well, well, well, what do we have here? Alec Baldwin, the big-shot actor, has found himself in a bit of a pickle. A grand jury in Santa Fe, NM, has indicted him on an involuntary manslaughter charge. This is all related to a fatal shooting that happened on a movie set back in 2021. It’s like a phoenix rising from the ashes – a case that was once dormant is now back in the spotlight.
Special prosecutors were the ones to bring this case before the grand jury. They had received a new analysis of the gun used in the shooting. Baldwin’s legal team? Radio silence. They didn’t respond to requests for comments on the indictment. The special prosecutors, too, kept mum after presenting their case to the grand jury for about a day and a half.
The proceeding was all hush-hush. But, two crew members were seen at the courthouse. One was there when the fatal shot was fired, and another had walked off the set the day before due to safety concerns. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Baldwin was the lead actor and a co-producer on the Western movie “Rust.” He was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal when the gun went off. The result? Hutchins was killed, and director Joel Souza was wounded.
Baldwin has claimed he pulled back the hammer of the gun, but not the trigger. And yet, the gun fired. It’s a mystery, isn’t it?
A bunch of civil lawsuits seeking compensation from Baldwin and the producers of “Rust” were put on hold recently. The judges agreed to this after prosecutors said they would present charges to a grand jury. The plaintiffs in these suits? Members of the film crew.
In a twist of events, special prosecutors dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April 2023. They were informed that the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. But then, they received a new analysis of the gun and started considering whether to refile a charge against Baldwin.
The analysis was done by experts in ballistics and forensic testing. They used replacement parts to reassemble the gun fired by Baldwin after parts of the pistol were broken during testing by the FBI. The report examined the gun and the markings it left on a spent cartridge. The conclusion? The trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.
Lucien Haag of Forensic Science Services in Arizona led the analysis. He stated that even though Baldwin denied pulling the trigger, the tests, findings, and observations reported that the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.
The weapons supervisor on the movie set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case. Her trial is scheduled to begin in February. “Rust” assistant director and safety coordinator David Halls pleaded no contest to unsafe handling of a firearm last March and received a suspended sentence of six months of probation. He agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the shooting.
An earlier FBI report on the agency’s analysis of the gun found that, as is common with firearms of that design, it could go off without pulling the trigger if force was applied to an uncocked hammer, such as by dropping the weapon. The only way the testers could get it to fire was by striking the gun with a mallet while the hammer was down and resting on the cartridge, or by pulling the trigger while it was fully cocked. The gun eventually broke during testing.
The 2021 shooting resulted in a series of civil lawsuits, including wrongful death claims filed by members of Hutchins’ family. The accusations? The defendants were lax with safety standards. Baldwin and other defendants have disputed those allegations.
The Rust Movie Productions company has paid a $100,000 fine to state workplace safety regulators. This was after a scathing narrative of failures in violation of standard industry protocols. There was testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set before the fatal shooting.
The filming of “Rust” resumed last year in Montana, under an agreement with the cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins. He was made an executive producer.