Alec Baldwin can be relieved – at least for the time being, the Hollywood star is avoiding involuntary manslaughter proceedings. The news came as a surprise yesterday (local time): The ongoing criminal proceedings against the 65-year-old after a fatal shot during a film shoot are being discontinued. This was announced by the special investigators employed by the public prosecutor in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The competent court has scheduled a hearing for Friday afternoon.
It's about the fatal shot while filming the western "Rust" in October 2021 at a film ranch in Santa Fe. Baldwin - leading actor and also producer - was operating a gun during a rehearsal for a scene when a shot went off. Camerawoman Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot.
Background still unclear
Young armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with involuntary manslaughter with Baldwin in January. Both deny any guilt. Another hearing was planned for early May. A date for the start of the process has not yet been set.
To this day it is unclear how the live ammunition got to the shooting location. There was a real bullet in the Colt. "I didn't pull the trigger," Baldwin assured in a TV interview. "Someone put live ammunition in a gun, live ammunition that shouldn't have been on the premises. Someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who it is, but it's not me."
Even after months of investigation, the case continues to raise many questions. The special investigators have now admitted this. The charges against Baldwin are being dropped but the investigation into the case is continuing, the statement said yesterday. Accordingly, new facts have become known in the last few days that require further investigations and forensic analyzes. The lawyers did not reveal any details.
In many respects "extremely" negligent
Baldwin is not yet off the hook legally. At a later date, the actor could be prosecuted again, according to the lawyers.
At the time of the indictment in January, the allegations were still serious. Prosecutors claimed that Baldwin was "extremely" negligent in many respects and disregarded numerous safety regulations. Due to aggravating circumstances, Baldwin and the armorer faced up to five years in prison if found guilty. In February, prosecutors backed down. The possible sentence was reduced to a maximum of 18 months imprisonment.
Gutierrez-Reed has yet to appear in court, special counsel said. Her attorney, Jason Bowles, yesterday expressed hope that "the truth" about the incident would come out and that his client would also be exonerated.
Baldwin thanks his wife
Baldwin's attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, said in a terse statement yesterday that they are pleased with the decision to drop the case against Baldwin. They supported a thorough investigation into the circumstances of this "tragic accident".
Baldwin responded with an emotional message of thanks to his wife and attorney. "I owe everything I have to this woman (and you, Luke)," the Hollywood star wrote on Instagram. He also posted an intimate photo of the couple visiting a restaurant. Baldwin and yoga teacher Hilaria (39) have been married to each other since 2012 and have seven children together.
After the fatal shot in autumn 2021, the shooting of the film "Rust" was stopped immediately. But recently the production team announced plans to continue filming the western. The German Press Agency learned yesterday from Rust Movie Productions that production has started in the US state of Montana. Baldwin is on site.