Actor Alec Baldwin, 64, is facing two charges of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a prop gun during a rehearsal for the low-budget Western movie Rust.

At the time, Hutchins’s death on October 21, 2021 marked the 43rd fatal accident on American film sets since 1990.

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The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, faces the same fourth-degree felony charges, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced earlier on Thursday.

“On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice,” Carmack-Altwies said in a statement.

Hutchins’s family, represented by attorney Brian J. Panis, said they were grateful for the decision, calling the alleged accident a “conscious disregard for human life.”

Even before the charges were brought, a complicated maze of lawsuits and accusations emerged.

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Live rounds were mixed in with dummy ones on set, Gutierrez-Reed claimed, accusing PDBQ Arm and Prop, LLC. and its founder Seth Kenney of deception, false labeling and sending the Rust crew ill-prepared ammunition.

Kenney’s team countered that he had checked all guns before sending them to the set and that the responsibility fell upon her after that point.

Back in November, Baldwin pointed fingers at both Gutierrez-Reed and his assistant director Dave Halls, who had physically handed him the gun, according to a cross-complaint.

In that lawsuit, which was the first time he asserted wrongdoing against someone for the shooting, his team labeled him as being mistakenly viewed as the “perpetrator” of the tragedy.

He told detectives that he was reassured there was no live ammunition in the gun, and in early March 2022, filed an arbitration demand hoping to free himself from the financial liabilities of the shooting.

Gutierrez-Reed fired back, telling investigators she had checked the gun and the cartridges she loaded, but admitted that she wished she had checked more times.

As for Halls, his sentence was later suspended after he signed a plea agreement to having negligently used deadly weaponry.

He will be put on probation for six months, which his attorney Lisa Torraco described Thursday as a successful outcome.

If convicted, both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would be sentenced to just one of the two counts, and will at least face 18 months in prison and pay a $5,000 fine. However, the more serious of the counts involve a firearm enhancement, and the more severe penalty could be a mandatory five years in prison.

Charges were not filed against director Joel Souza, who was struck by the same bullet that day but fortunately survived.

“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said, emphasizing that he felt blindsided. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set.”

“The blame goes to the professionals who Baldwin relied on and who failed to catch or check the safety measures before they were breached,” Nikas continued.

Several details did not appear to be on Baldwin’s side Thursday morning.

Though he announced in his March filing that he was more involved in supervising the creative side of the production and that he reinvested $100,000 of the $250,000 he was paid for serving as both an actor and producer of the movie, Carmack-Altwies said in her statement that being a producer nonetheless means that he holds additional responsibilities for ensuring the safety of a set.

Several members of the camera crew walked off the set just hours before Hutchins was shot, protesting poor working conditions, delayed paychecks and long hours.

A week beforehand, one of the camera operators had complained about the loosely enforced gun safety on set.

Since the shooting, Baldwin has repeatedly claimed he did not pull the trigger nor fully cock the gun, and that he was unaware of the live round in the gun.

An FBI forensic report said otherwise, though – that the gun could not possibly have been fired without a pulled trigger. Later testing did reveal that there did seem to be some malfunction and uncontrolled firing associated with the gun in a cocked position after the fracture of certain internal parts.

The incident has reignited a conversation on safety and ethics in behind-the-scenes Hollywood filmmaking.

It brought back a still very raw pain for the family of Brandon Lee, son of martial artist Bruce Lee and the victim of a similar fatal prop gun accident in 1993.

“Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on Rust,” read an October post from Brandon Lee’s associated Twitter account, run by his sister Shannon Lee. “No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”

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