Manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin are expected to be dropped, as per his legal representative and unnamed sources cited by the US media. The decision comes as newly appointed special prosecutors take control of the case.
Baldwin was charged in January following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western film “Rust” in New Mexico in 2021. He has consistently maintained his innocence.
Baldwin unwittingly fired a Colt .45 gun during rehearsals, which led to Hutchins’ death. He insists he was informed the firearm was safe to use and that he never pulled the trigger.
Attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said, “We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.”
The news emerged as the Variety and Deadline entertainment news portals broke the story that the charges will be dropped without prejudice, allowing special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to file fresh charges if necessary. The pair is set to continue probing the incident that also left director Joel Souza injured.
Complexities have dogged the criminal case against Baldwin. Apart from Baldwin, the film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was also indicted with two alternative counts of voluntary manslaughter. Due to a procedural error, however, the so-called “firearm enhancement” was dropped soon afterwards.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and the case’s previous special prosecutor Andrea Reeb both stood down from overseeing the cases against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys remarked that the “new special prosecutor team has taken a very diligent and thorough approach to the entire investigation,” though it remains unclear whether she may still face charges.
As for the “Rust” movie, it will recommence filming at a new location in Montana with the late cinematographer’s husband, Matthew Hutchins, serving as an executive producer. A wrong-death suit against the film’s producers has already been settled by Hutchins, who has stated he has “no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame.”
Baldwin has agreed to a New Mexico court’s conditions — including forfeiting the use of guns and alcohol — enabling him to complete the film’s shooting.
Souza, describing the experience as “bittersweet,” said the cast and crew “are committed to completing what Halyna and I started.” A documentary encompassing Hutchins’ life and the film’s completion is also planned.
The entire incident has rocked Hollywood, prompting calls to ban real guns on film sets. Industry insiders argue that existing safety rules are already robust but were not observed on this occasion.
Dave Halls, the film’s safety coordinator and assistant director who handed Baldwin the loaded gun, agreed to a plea bargain and was given a six-month probationary sentence last month.
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