The family of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins says it’s “a comfort” that no one in New Mexico is above the law following the decision to file criminal charges against actor-producer Alec Baldwin and gunsmith of the movie.
More than 15 months after the 2021 shooting death of Hutchins, Baldwin and “Rust” gun handler Hannah Gutierrez Reed face felony charges related to the October 2021 incident.
Baldwin, 64, who stars in and is a producer of the low-budget western, was charged Thursday with two counts of manslaughter and Gutierrez Reed, who loaded the prop gun that Baldwin fired, faces manslaughter charges. Assistant director David Halls has reached a plea agreement on a lesser charge in connection with the fatal shooting, which also wounded director Joel Souza.
In a statement issued through an attorney, Hutchins’ family thanked the Santa Fe sheriff and district attorney for their “thorough investigation” and for determining that the charges are “justified by the murder of Halyna Hutchins with knowing disregard for the human life”.
The family added: “We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope that the justice system works to protect the public and hold those who break the law accountable.”
On Thursday, a lawyer for Baldwin called the promised criminal charges a “terrible judicial error” and said “we will fight these charges and we will win.”
Initial reactions to the shooting were swift and were met with surprise in Hollywood. Many celebrities called for better gun safety on sets when word got out that New Mexico film industry people who worked on the set of “Rust” had walked out in protest of poor working conditions. However, since then, developments in the long-playing case have been met with a calmer response within the industry.
“Honestly, I don’t quite understand how he is responsible, but I guess he pulled the trigger,” said a person affiliated with a talent agency who was not authorized to speak publicly about the charges.
in a long Twitter threadKirk Acevedo, an actor who has appeared on HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” Fox’s “Fringe” and CW’s “Arrow,” called Baldwin’s manslaughter charge “the most ridiculous charge ever” and blamed it squarely on Gutierrez Reed.
“Most of those actors have never fired a real gun in their lives and those who did still have no idea how to properly hold or fire a real gun let alone the prop guns we were given. It was up to the technical advisors we had on those sets to show us or the gunsmith,” he said. tweeted.
California Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) said he plans to once again reintroduce legislation this year to set safety standards in Hollywood after attempts to pass new laws failed in 2022. He said an alliance of studios and unions failed to find common ground. to support the changes.
“I have been working with stakeholders and industry leaders, including many entertainment workers, to push these real reforms forward and prevent another on-set tragedy,” Cortese said in a statement. “What we have learned is that this is an issue that needs to be addressed across the industry, rather than on an incident-by-incident basis, to strengthen security as a whole and ensure we keep productions safe for everyone.”
“Today’s news reinforces the fact that anyone on set can be the tragic victim of a lack of regulatory safety protocols,” added Cortese.
The prosecution’s decision comes three months after Baldwin and the film’s other producers reached a proposed settlement agreement with Hutchins’ family to end a wrongful-death civil lawsuit filed early last year. The family initially blamed Hutchins’ death on cost-cutting measures and reckless behavior by Baldwin and others.
Meanwhile, right-wing pundits who have long criticized the liberal views of Baldwin, and his Emmy-winning impersonation of former President Trump, reacted with glee at the legal fallout.
“It’s great to see that Alec Baldwin is finally being accused of killing that young woman. I hope they throw the book at him because he demonstrated dishonesty and complete lack of humility every day thereafter.” tweeted Conservative commentator Candace Owens, who confronted Baldwin’s daughter Ireland on Twitter in the days after the shooting.
Here’s a sampling of the mixed reaction to Thursday’s charges:
Times staff writers Meg James, Wendy Lee, Anousha Sakoui and Christie D’Zurilla contributed to this report.