Prosecutors weigh options in Alec Baldwin’s fatal shooting

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A Santa Fe district attorney said a decision on whether or not to press charges would be announced Thursday morning.

Actor Alec Baldwin attends a press conference at United Nations Headquarters on Sept. 21, 2015. (APPhoto/Seth Wenig)

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — A Santa Fe district attorney will announce Thursday whether charges will be filed for the fatal 2021 shooting of a cameraman by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal of the western “Rest.”

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said a decision would be announced Thursday morning in a statement and on social media, with no public appearances from prosecutors.

“The announcement will be a solemn occasion, made in a manner consistent with the firm’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the judicial process and respecting the victim’s family,” said Heather Brewer, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. the prosecutor.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded by a gunshot while setting up a scene at the ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 21, 2021. Baldwin pointed a gun at Hutchins when the weapon exploded, killing her and injuring the woman . director, Joel Souza.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death, described “a degree of neglect” on set. But he left decisions about possible criminal charges to prosecutors after reporting the results of a year-long investigation in October. This report does not specify how the live ammunition ended up on the film set.

Carmack-Altwies took charge of the investigation and secured a $300,000 emergency request for the state to pay a special prosecutor, a special investigator, and other experts and personnel.

Baldwin – known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” – ​​described Hutchins’ murder as a “tragic accident.”

He attempted to clear his name by suing those involved in the handling and delivery of the loaded gun given to him on set. Baldwin, also a co-producer of “Rust,” said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins during a scene rehearsal, he pointed the gun in his direction and fired back and released the gun’s hammer, which was released.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator determined the shooting was accidental after an autopsy and review of law enforcement reports.

The New Mexico Office of Occupational Health and Safety imposed the maximum fine on Rust Movie Productions, based on a damning record of safety violations, including testimony that production officials took limited or no action to address two misfires on set before the fatal shooting. to grab.

Rust Movie Productions continues to dispute the basis for a $137,000 fine from regulators who say production managers on set did not follow industry-standard protocols for gun safety.

The gunsmith who oversaw the guns on set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, was the subject of much of the investigation of the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. A lawyer for Gutierrez Reed said the gunsmith did not put live ammunition in the gun that killed Hutchins and believes it was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they had not found any evidence.

Investigators first found 500 rounds of ammunition on the movie set on the outskirts of Santa Fe — a mix of blanks, fake rounds, and what appeared to be real rounds. Industry experts have said live tours should never be on set.

In April 2022, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department released a trove of files, including rear view camera video of the mortally injured Hutchins slipping in and out of consciousness as an evacuation helicopter arrived. Witness interviews, email threads, text conversations, ammunition inventories, and hundreds of photographs supplemented this evidence collection.

State workplace regulators said immediate gun safety concerns were resolved when “Rust” stopped filming, and that a return to filming in New Mexico would be accompanied by new safety inspections.

Hutchins’ family – widower Matthew Hutchins and son Andros – have settled a lawsuit against the producers under an agreement to resume filming with Matthew as executive producer.

“Rest” has been plagued with conflict since its inception in early October 2021. Seven crew members left the set just hours before the fatal shooting amid a dispute over working conditions.

Hutchins’ death influenced the negotiation of security provisions in film crew union contracts with Hollywood producers and prompted other filmmakers to prefer computer-generated footage of gunfire over real guns with blank ammunition to minimize risk.

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