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Alec Baldwin Indicted on Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in New Mexico


Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office in Santa Fe, N.M., after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film “Rust” on the outskirts of Santa Fe, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, officials said. (Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)

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Alec Baldwin’s set on the Western movie “Rust,” was reportedly plagued with all manner of mishaps and safety violations including multiple negligent discharges. Ultimately, prosecutors say those culminated in Baldwin, a big supporter of gun control for the little people, firing a shot that killed a 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded Baldwin’s director.

Baldwin claims the “prop” gun on the Rust film set that was loaded “with blanks” “misfired.”

There’s even video out there of Baldwin practicing his pistolero skills.

On Friday, January 19th, a grand jury indicted Alec Baldwin on Involuntary Manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting. The gears of justice turn slowly, but it looks like the hot-tempered, political activist “actor” will get his day in court. Especially after Baldwin reportedly avoided cooperating with investigators by, among other things, dragging his feet in surrendering his phone for examination.

From the AP:

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A grand jury indicted Alec Baldwin on Friday on an involuntary manslaughter charge in a 2021 fatal shooting during a rehearsal on a movie set in New Mexico, reviving a dormant case against the actor.

Special prosecutors brought the case before a grand jury in Santa Fe this week, months after receiving a new analysis of the gun that was used. They declined to answer questions after spending about a day and a half presenting their case to the grand jury.

Defense attorneys for Baldwin indicated they’ll fight the charge.

“We look forward to our day in court,” said Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, defense attorneys for Baldwin, in an email.

Trust us, Nikas and Spiro, plenty of us Americans look forward to justice for Halyna Hutchins.

After all, Alec Baldwin says he feels no guilt over firing that fatal shot.  His story is that he didn’t pull the trigger.

Because none of us has heard that excuse before, right? Especially from a guy who advocates for gun control for everyday Americanseven after the incident on his film set.

While the proceeding is shrouded in secrecy, two of the witnesses seen at the courthouse included crew members — one who was present when the fatal shot was fired and another who had walked off the set the day before due to safety concerns.

Baldwin, the lead actor and a co-producer on the Western movie “Rust,” was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on a movie set outside Santa Fe in October 2021 when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer, but not the trigger, and the gun fired.

The charge has again put Baldwin in legal trouble and created the possibility of prison time for an actor who has been a TV and movie mainstay for nearly 40 years, with roles in the early blockbuster “The Hunt for Red October,” Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and the sitcom “30 Rock.”

There’s more at the AP, not the least of which the Rust Movie Production company moved filming on the jinxed set to Montana.

Security guards block the Bonanza Creek Ranch Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Santa Fe, N.M. A prop firearm fired by actor Alec Baldwin, who is producing and starring in a Western movie, killed his cinematographer and injured the director at the movie set outside Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

That after New Mexico state workplace safety regulators reported numerous safety violations and fined the company $100,000. Given that the entire low-budget flick was budged to cost about $7.2 million, that’s real money.

The indictment provides prosecutors with two alternative standards for pursuing an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in the death of Hutchins. One would be based on negligent use of a firearm, and the other alleges felony misconduct “with the total disregard or indifference for the safety of others.”

Judges recently agreed to put on hold several civil lawsuits seeking compensation from Baldwin and producers of “Rust” after prosecutors said they would present their case to a grand jury. Plaintiffs in those suits include members of the film crew.

Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the slain cinematographer’s parents and younger sister in a civil case, said Friday that her clients have been seeking the truth about what happened the day Hutchins was killed and will be looking forward to Baldwin’s trial.

Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of the West Coast Trial Lawyers firm in Los Angeles, pointed to previous missteps by prosecutors, saying they will need to do more than present ballistics evidence to make a case that Baldwin had a broader responsibility and legal duty when it came to handling the gun on the set.

Special prosecutors dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April, saying they were informed the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. They later pivoted and began weighing whether to refile a charge against Baldwin after receiving a new analysis of the gun.

Baldwin movie set shooting
In this image from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Alec Baldwin stands in costume and speaks with investigators following a fatal shooting last year on a movie set in Santa Fe, N.M. Data files released on Monday, April 25, 2022, included videos of investigators debriefing Baldwin on the day of the shooting inside a compact office. (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The analysis from experts in ballistics and forensic testing relied on 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 markings it left on a spent cartridge to conclude that the trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.

The analysis led by Lucien Haag of Forensic Science Services in Arizona stated that although Baldwin repeatedly denied pulling the trigger, “given the tests, findings and observations reported here, 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, centered on accusations that 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 after a scathing narrative of failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including 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, that made him an executive producer.

Involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico is a felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Even if Baldwin somehow avoids jail time if he’s convicted, it would put an end to Mr. Baldwin ever handling real firearms again.

 

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