Alec Baldwin Faces A Serious Charge After Rust Movie Shooting

Over a year after the tragic "Rust" shooting, a New Mexico prosecutor has officially decided to charge Alec Baldwin with a serious crime.

In October 2021, Baldwin was at the center of a harrowing incident that occurred while filming the upcoming movie, "Rust." According to The New York Times, court papers revealed that Baldwin had fired a revolver that struck director Joel Souza and cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Souza was shot in the shoulder and Hutchins in the chest. Souza recovered from the gunshot wound, but Hutchins tragically died as a result of her injuries. After the shooting, it became a question as to who was responsible and whether the correct safety measures were in place to prevent such an accident from occurring.

Throughout it all, Baldwin has maintained his innocence and instead pointed the finger at Hannah Gutierrez Reed and Dave Halls – the film's armorer/props assistant and assistant director, per CNN. Two months after the shooting, Baldwin sat down with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News to discuss the accident and deny culpability. He said, "Someone put a live bullet in a gun. A live bullet that wasn't even supposed to be on the property. Someone is ​responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me." Because Baldwin fired the weapon, he and several other crew members were not excluded from facing criminal charges. Following the conclusion of a year-long investigation, a New Mexico prosecutor announced plans to move forward with charges against Baldwin in the case.

Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter

Alec Baldwin's legal fate in the "Rust" tragedy has been determined, as the actor has been charged for his involvement in the "Rust" shooting. First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said the decision to charge both Baldwin and "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed with involuntary manslaughter reflected "her commitment to pursue justice for all victims," per Sky News

In October, Carmack-Altweis said she would oversee a "thorough review of the information and evidence to make a thoughtful, timely decision about whether to bring charges," per ABC News. The Santa Fe Sheriff's Office conducted an extensive investigation into the shooting to determine if charges should be brought against Baldwin and his fellow crew members, per Variety. Phone records and forensic analysis of the weapon helped prosecutors arrive at their decision. The investigation revealed that the Gutierrez Reed filled the gun with live rounds. All of the details of the investigation helped to determine whether Baldwin would be charged.

Meanwhile, NBC News reports that Dave Halls plans to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon for his role in the fatal shooting.

Alec Baldwin could serve up to 18 months in prison

Even though Alec Baldwin is slated to be charged with involuntary manslaughter, his fate remains very much up in the air. According to ABC News, Santa Fe First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies will have until the end of January to formally file charges against Baldwin. A preliminary hearing will then determine if his case will go to trial and which of two manslaughter umbrellas best fits Baldwin's case. According to the Los Angeles Times, Baldwin could be looking at up to 18 months in prison if jurors deem that he acted "without due caution and circumspection," while handling the firearm. The charge also comes with a $5,000 fine, per NPR.

In light of Baldwin's charges, his attorney, Luke Nikas issued a statement to People, decrying the decision. "This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," Nikas said. "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds." Nikas concluded his statement with an optimistic slant. "We will fight these charges, and we will win."

What Alec Baldwin's charge could mean for Rust

Production shut down filming on "Rust" immediately after the death of Haylna Hutchins in October 2021, per Deadline. "The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today's tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna's family and loved ones," shared the film's representative in a statement. "We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department's investigation." 

One year later, Variety reported that "Rust" was gearing up to start shooting again in January 2023, although its original location of New Mexico was no longer an option. With that said, given Baldwin's charges, it's impossible to know how the film will fare. In October 2022, it was announced that Baldwin would indeed finish the film, per Insider. But given Baldwin's new charges, it's unclear how or when he — the film's star and its producer — will be able to return to set, especially if he ends up facing jail time.

Currently, "Rust" does not have an official date for release.