LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Alec Baldwin was formally charged on Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter over the accidental shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the low-budget western Rust.
Baldwin was holding the Colt .45 during rehearsals for the film when it discharged, killing Halyna Hutchins in October 2021.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies had already announced earlier this month that there was sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against the veteran Unites States actor.
“Today we have taken another important step in securing justice for Halyna Hutchins,” Carmack-Altwies said on Tuesday.
“In New Mexico, no one is above the law and justice will be served.”
The film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for the weapon, was also formally charged on Tuesday with the same crime.
If convicted, they both face up to 18 months in jail and a USD5,000 fine, but a firearm enhancement to the charge could take that sentence to five years.
Former 30 Rock star Baldwin has repeatedly said he was told by the crew that the gun was not loaded, and that he did not pull the trigger.
Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas has vowed to beat the charge, which he called a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.
Lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed said on Tuesday that prosecutors had “completely misunderstood the facts” and had “reached the wrong conclusions”.
“We will fight these charges and expect that a jury will find Hannah not guilty,” said Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion.
Separately, Rust Assistant Director Dave Halls, who handed Baldwin the weapon and told him it was “cold” – industry speak for safe – pleaded no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon.