In the wake of the revelation that Alec Baldwin will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter over the fatal shooting of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office has stated that the actor and producer will not face charges for the shooting of director Joel Souza. The D.A. has faced significant backlash since publicizing the criminal charges against Baldwin, who many in the film industry argue should not be held liable for the cinematographer’s accidental death.
What Happened on the “Rust” Film Set?
Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death occurred in October 2021, on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Western film “Rust,” which was being filmed at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. According to reports, a prop gun Baldwin was rehearsing a scene with unexpectedly discharged and killed Hutchins, 42, who was standing near the camera. An investigation into the shooting revealed that the revolver, which Baldwin believed was loaded with blanks, contained live rounds. The same bullet that killed Hutchins also struck and wounded director Joel Souza, but he recovered from his injuries.
Souza’s Accidental Shooting Does Not Constitute a Crime
In terms of criminal liability, the basis for the involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin is recklessness or a “criminal disregard for safety.” To secure a conviction, the prosecution would have to prove that Baldwin fired the weapon recklessly, or without caution, and caused the cinematographer’s death. According to information obtained from the D.A., the only way to characterize Baldwin’s involvement in Souza’s accidental shooting would be as an “unintentional battery,” a crime that does not exist. The key to a battery charge is intent, and Baldwin did not intend to hurt anyone in the incident.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set,” Luke Nikas, a lawyer for the actor, said in a statement. In fact, Baldwin was told immediately before the fatal shooting occurred that the revolver did not contain live ammunition. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”
Will Baldwin Serve Time in Jail for Fatal Shooting?
Publicly, the majority of the blame for Hutchins’ death has been placed on the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who loaded the firearm that day and was responsible for managing weapons on the set. Gutierrez-Reed also faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico. The first involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin carries a sentence of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The second charge, which includes a firearm enhancement, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Find Out How Sevens Legal Can Help with Your Criminal Case
Like New Mexico, the state of California classifies involuntary manslaughter as a felony offense, punishable by two, three, or four years in a California state prison, felony probation, and up to $10,000 in fines. If you are facing manslaughter charges in San Diego, contact Sevens Legal right away at (619) 430-2355 or visit our website to find out how we can help with your case.