SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – A grand jury on Friday indicted actor Alec Baldwin in a charge of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a 2021 fatal shooting that occurred on a rehearsal set in New Mexico.
Special prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury in Santa Fe this week, months after receiving a new analysis of the gun involved in the shooting. They refused to answer questions after spending a day and a half making their case to the jury.
Baldwin’s defense attorneys have indicated they will fight the charges.
“We look forward to justice being served,” Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, Baldwin’s defense attorneys, said in an email.
While the proceedings were shrouded in secrecy, two of the witnesses presented in court included members of the film crew, one present when the gun was fired and one who left the set the day before due to safety concerns.
Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer of the western film “Rust,” was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on the set outside Santa Fe in October 2021, when the gun went off. Souza.
Baldwin said he pulled the hammer, but he didn’t pull the trigger, and the gun went off.
The charges have once again put Baldwin in legal trouble and once again opened the possibility that the actor could be sentenced to prison. Baldwin has been a major television and film star for nearly 40 years, with roles in box office hits such as “The Hunt for Red October,” “The Departed,” Martin Scorsese and the comedy “30 Rock.”
Judges recently agreed to stay several civil lawsuits seeking compensation from Baldwin and the producers of “Rust” after prosecutors said they would present the cases to a jury. Among the plaintiffs in the civil cases are members of the film crew.
Special prosecutors dismissed a manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April, saying they were informed the gun may have been modified before the shooting and tampered with. They later changed their minds and began evaluating whether to file charges against Baldwin after receiving a new analysis of the gun.
A review by ballistics and forensic testing experts relied on replacement parts to recreate the gun Baldwin fired, after parts of the original gun were broken during FBI testing. The report examined the gun and the marks it left on a spent cartridge to conclude that the trigger must have been pulled or lowered.
The analysis led by Lucien Haag of Arizona’s Forensic Science Services said that, even though Baldwin repeatedly pulled the trigger, “given the evidence, findings and observations reported here, the trigger should have that can be pulled or depressed enough to release the full pull or retract the firing pin of the evidence revolver.”
The firearms supervisor on the film’s set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the case. His trial is scheduled to begin in February.
“Rust” deputy director and security coordinator David Halls pleaded not guilty to unsafe handling of a firearm in March and received a suspended sentence of six months’ probation. He agreed to cooperate with the investigation into the shooting.
The FBI’s initial report on its analysis of the weapon found that, as is common with weapons of that design, it could be fired without pulling the trigger if force was applied to the firing pin without cocking, like dropping a weapon.
The 2021 shooting led to a series of civil lawsuits, including wrongful-death lawsuits filed by Hutchins’ family members, centered on allegations that the suspects were lax on safety standards. . Baldwin and other defendants dispute these allegations.
Rust Movie Productions has paid a $100,000 fine to state workplace safety regulators after reported failures to follow industry-standard protocols, including allegations that production managers took limited or no action to address two sets of setbacks before the fatal shooting.
Filming of “Rust” continued last year in Montana, under an agreement with the cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, making him the film’s executive producer.