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Alec Baldwin charged with manslaughter over ‘Rust’ film death

Actor Alec Baldwin arrives at the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at the Hilton Midtown in New York on December 6, 2022. PHOTO / AFP)

 

Actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with manslaughter — again — over the deadly 2021 shooting on the set of his film “Rust,” court documents filed Friday showed.

Baldwin was holding a Colt .45 during rehearsals for the low-budget Western in New Mexico when it discharged a live round, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin, who was also a producer on the film, has repeatedly denied responsibility for the October 2021 shooting, insisting he did not pull the trigger on the gun, which in any case should have been loaded with a non-lethal blank.

Friday’s development marks the latest attempt to hold someone to account for the deadly episode, which sent shockwaves through Hollywood and led to calls for a tightening of the rules around firearms on movie sets.

Initial manslaughter charges against Baldwin were dropped in April last year, due to what prosecutors called “new facts” which demanded “further investigation and forensic analysis.”

In October, prosecutors said they were convening a grand jury — a group of citizens who assess evidence and decide whether there is a case to answer.

“We look forward to our day in court,” Baldwin’s attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement sent to AFP on Friday.

Baldwin reportedly faces up to 18 months in jail if convicted of the new charge.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer — the person responsible for supplying and maintaining weapons — is set to go on trial next month on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors say that as the person who loaded the gun, she is culpable.

She denies the charges.

Investigators discovered a number of other live rounds on the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set — a popular destination for film producers loking to recreate the 19th century US frontier — in addition to the one that killed Hutchins.

There has been no explanation as to how they got there, but numerous stories have emerged about lax safety protocols, cost-cutting and an atmosphere of discontent among some members of the crew.

Dave Halls, the film’s safety coordinator and assistant director who handed Baldwin the loaded gun, agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to six months’ probation.

 Filming completed 
Filming of “Rust” was halted by the tragedy, but resumed last year.

Variety reported it has now been completed, using new locations in the US state of Montana.

The cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, served as an executive producer on the project.

He has already settled a wrongful death suit with “Rust” producers, and has said he has “no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame,” calling his wife’s death “a terrible accident.”

Director Souza also returned, saying at the time that completing the movie would be “bittersweet” but that the cast and crew “are committed to completing what Halyna and I started.”

Lawyers for Hutchins’ Ukranian parents and sister, who are suing Baldwin and other producers, welcomed Friday’s grand jury indictment.

“Our clients have always sought the truth about what happened on the day that Halyna Hutchins was tragically shot and killed,” a statement from lawyer Gloria Allred said.

“They continue to seek the truth in our civil lawsuit for them and they also would like there to be accountability in the criminal justice system.

“We are looking forward to the criminal trial which will determine if he should be convicted for the untimely death of Halyna.”

 

 

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