Baldwin Facing Involuntary Manslaughter Charges After Grand Jury Indictment

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

A few months ago it looked like Alec Baldwin was going to avoid having to choose between a trial and a plea bargain for his role in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Last April prosecutors dropped the original charge against the actor, citing new evidence that the gun in question might have been modified or malfunctioned, though they did say at the time that the “decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled.”


The investigation continued after the dismissal, and prosecutors received another analysis of the revolver by the Arizona company Forensic Science Services, which concluded that despite Baldwin’s claims that he never pulled the trigger of the gun before it discharged the round that killed Hutchins, “the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”

Prosecutors recently brought that analysis before a grand jury, and now its members have indicted Baldwin on the same charge that was dismissed in 2023.

While the proceeding is shrouded in secrecy, two of the witnesses seen at the courthouse included crew members — one who was present when the fatal shot was fired and another who had walked off the set the day before due to safety concerns.

Baldwin, the lead actor and a co-producer on the Western movie “Rust,” was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on a movie set outside Santa Fe in October 2021 when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer, but not the trigger, and the gun fired.

Baldwin’s not the only one facing charges, of course. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was Rust’s armorer, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case. Her trial was supposed to take place last month, but is now scheduled for February 21.David Halls, who was an assistant director as well as film’s safety coordinator, ended up taking a plea deal last March; pleading no contest to a single count of unsafe handling of a firearm in exchange for six months of probation, suspended.


Baldin’s attorneys offered a brief comment to Variety after the indictment was announced, telling reporters only, “We look forward to our day in court.” With the possibility of an 18-month prison sentence hanging over his head, my guess is that Baldwin and his legal team are also looking to see what kind of deal might be on the table before a trial takes place.

This case has been a hot mess from almost Day 1; with multiple prosecutors recusing or resigning from the case, charges filed, dropped, and now refiled, and conflicting reports about the gun in Baldwin’s hand when Hutchins was killed. Despite enough drama to serve as the inspiration for a whole season of Law & Order episodes, the case ultimately boils down to this: can prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted negligently and without due care by violating some of the cardinal rules of gun safety on the set? They’re probably going to need more than a forensic report, so it will be interesting to see if either of the two crew members spotted at the courthouse where the grand jury met is willing to state that they actually saw Baldwin pull the trigger with Hutchins and Souza in front of him.

Speaking of the rules for gun safety, if nothing else, Baldwin’s legal woes are a good opportunity to remind him and everyone else of the four fundamentals:

  • Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot
  • Know your target and what’s beyond
  • Treat all guns as if they are loaded at all times

Follow these rules (and I’d throw in the fifth rule of never mixing guns and alcohol/drugs as well) and you’ll be fine. Ignore them and it might not be just your own future you put in peril but your friends, family, range buddies, or even co-workers.

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