Special prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking to recharge actor Alec Baldwin in the 2021 fatal shooting on a Western movie set in New Mexico by presenting evidence to a grand jury.
New Mexico-based prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said they’ll present evidence to grand jury within the next two months, noting that “additional facts” have come to light in the shooting on the set of the film Rust that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
In February, Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2021 incident. On-set armourer Hanna Gutierrez-Reed was also charged.
At the time, prosecutors wrote that the 30 Rock star was not present for mandatory firearms training before filming on Rust began.
He was instead provided on-set guidance but prosecutors allege he was “distracted and talking on his cell phone to his family.” The training session was scheduled for an hour but was only 30 minutes long due to Baldwin’s “distraction” on the phone.
Baldwin, a co-producer of the film, was pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal on the film’s set on outside Santa Fe when the gun went off on Oct. 21, 2021, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.
However, the charges were dropped in April, after “new facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis,” the prosecutors wrote at the time.
They said they were informed the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. They later pivoted and began weighing whether to refile a charge against Baldwin after receiving a new analysis of the gun.
The recent gun analysis from experts in ballistics and forensic testing based in Arizona and New Mexico relied on replacement parts to reassemble the gun fired by Baldwin — after parts of the pistol were broken during earlier testing by the FBI. The report examined the gun and markings it left on a spent cartridge to conclude that the trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.
Now, Morrissey and Lewis will look to recharge Baldwin.
“Additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza,” Morrissey and Lewis said in an email obtained by The Associated Press.
“We believe the appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr. Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial.”
Baldwin has said he was told the gun was “cold” — an industry term meaning it did not contain any ammunition with an explosive charge — and he never pulled the trigger. It has not been determined how live rounds made it onto the set.
Gutierrez-Reed, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case. Her trial is scheduled to begin in February.
Gutierrez-Reed has blamed the shooting on other factors including possible sabotage, Baldwin’s lack of training, and a failure by Baldwin and assistant director and safety coordinator David Halls to ask her for extra checks.
Baldwin settled a lawsuit last October with the cinematographer’s husband, Matt Hutchins, in a deal that made Matt an executive producer on the movie.
In March, Halls pleaded no contest to a conviction for unsafe handling of a firearm and received a suspended sentence of six months of probation. He agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the shooting.
— with files from The Associated Press and Reuters