Alec Baldwin was on the phone during firearms training in the run-up to the fatal on-set shooting of a cinematographer, prosecutors have alleged.
The actor was formally charged yesterday with involuntary manslaughter over the death of Halyna Hutchins, who was killed by a prop gun on the set of Rust.
Santa Fe’s District Attorney’s Office in New Mexico accused the 64-year-old of “many instances of extremely reckless acts” in the lead-up to her death in October 2021.
The film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Robert Shilling, a special investigator for the district attorney’s office, said Baldwin was “distracted”, talking to family members on his mobile phone, during a 30-minute-long mandatory firearms training session.
Prosecutors allege that on the day of the shooting, there were “no less than a dozen acts, or omissions of recklessness” on the set in the period prior to the incident, not including Baldwin’s handling of the weapon.
If Baldwin had performed mandatory safety checks and not pointed the gun at Ms Hutchins, the “tragedy would not have occurred”, Mr Shilling said.
“Baldwin, by act or omission or failure to act in his position as a producer, directly contributed and/or failed to mitigate numerous reckless and dangerous actions during a very short time period,” he added.
In a statement, district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said: “Today we have taken another important step in securing justice for Halyna Hutchins.
“In New Mexico, no-one is above the law and justice will be served.”
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative” with the two counts of manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty, the DA’s office said previously.
In New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 (£4,000) fine. The second charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof that there was more than simple negligence and carries a mandatory penalty of five years in prison.
If convicted of the latter, the sentences would most likely be merged.
Baldwin has denied responsibility for the Ukrainian-born cinematographer’s death.
“Mr Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney, said after the charges were first announced, calling it a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.
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