Alec Baldwin “was not present” for a required firearms training before filming started for Rust, prosecutors said in documents officially charging the actor and producer with involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday. He was then provided on-set training, during which he was “distracted and talking on his cell phone to his family.”
Armorer Hannah Gutierriez Reed, who was also charged in the shooting, told investigators that Baldwin was provided only “minimal training on firearms” before pulling the trigger on a prop gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza in Oct. 2021. The session was scheduled for an hour but only ran about 30 minutes “due to the distraction of him talking to his family on his cell phone."
“The on-set and limited time of training does not comport to industry standards,” prosecutors said. “Baldwin’s failure to ensure minimum standards were met is considered reckless in the industry.”
Prosecutors also said that Baldwin approached Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies following the shooting and said he was the person who “fired” the gun.
Baldwin has since forcefully denied firing the weapon, but an FBI analysis last year found that the weapon “could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger.” The single shot Baldwin fired hit Hutchins in her armpit and exited her back before hitting Souza. Hutchins was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Photo and video evidence "clearly show Baldwin, multiple times, with his finger inside of the trigger guard and on the trigger,” according to the statement of probable cause submitted by prosecutors. Prosecutors also said Baldwin “displayed very inconsistent accounts” of the shooting during interviews with media and law enforcement.
Baldwin also failed to demand required safety checks, while Reed should not have left Baldwin alone in the church where the shooting happened, prosecutors said. Baldwin has been in at least 40 film or TV productions where he either handled a firearm directly or was in a scene where someone else handled a firearm, prosecutors said.
Baldwin and Reed have been formally charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Each charge carries a potential sentence of up to 18 months in prison. Assistant director Dave Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, was charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon and is expected to plead guilty.
Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney declined to comment to VICE News Tuesday but previously said the decision to charge Baldwin “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
“If any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez Reed or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said in a statement earlier this month. “It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
The state of New Mexico has requested a preliminary hearing within sixty days for both Baldwin and Reed.
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