Actor Alec Baldwin had been in some pretty hot water. He was looking at actual prison time, likely the kind served at a place completely different than where Martha Stewart went.
If you noticed all of that was written in the past tense, there’s a reason for that. That reason is that all charges against the Hunt For Red October star have been dropped.
Charges against Alec Baldwin have been dropped in the fatal on-set “Rust” shooting, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Baldwin, 65, had been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter after fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, on the New Mexico set of the Western in October 2021. The actor was practicing a cross-draw when the gun fired, striking the cinematographer and director Joel Souza, who suffered a non-life-threatening injury.
“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, the attorneys for Baldwin, said in a statement.
The Santa Fe district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Now, this will spark a different kind of debate.
Was this the right call?
Based on the facts we know, Baldwin was handed a gun, told it was unloaded, then was handling the gun when it discharged and killed Hutchins.
These facts aren’t in dispute.
Now, what is in dispute is whether Baldwin was responsible for what happened to any actionable degree.
While I’m not a lawyer, I do suspect that if I handed one of you a firearm, told you it was unloaded, then it discharged while in your hands–and the FBI determined it was incapable of accidentally firing as described–you would be charged with manslaughter.
But my guess is that because it’s the film industry and Baldwin is a big name, the rules are just different for him.
Regardless, Alec Baldwin is a free man.
It’s unlikely that he’ll think all that much about this going forward. There are plans to finish filming Rust and I’m sure he’ll take other roles where he’ll handle guns, all while advocating gun control elsewhere.
However, armorer Hannah Guiterrez-Reid is still apparently facing charges, though there’s evidence she wasn’t allowed to properly do her job in the first place.
Regardless, that will now likely be determined in court as Baldwin goes on with his life.
In truth, Baldwin was never the only soul responsible for what happened. His handling of the firearms was, at most, the last in a string of poorly thought-out decisions on the set of that movie. As a result, a woman is dead.
Baldwin previously settled a wrongful death suit with Hutchins’s family, though it should be remembered that the standards involved in such a suit are very different than in a criminal court.
Regardless, there will always be a footnote in Baldwin’s life surrounding this event. My most sincere hope is that he takes it upon himself to learn how to properly handle a firearm so as to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
I’m just not holding my breath on it.