A New Mexico prosecutor announced Thursday that Alec Baldwin faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his movie, “Rust” — but reports circulated alleging negligence on set prior to Hutchins’ death in 2021.
The producers of “Rust” reportedly had already been dealing with complaints surrounding the safety of their cast and crew, including allegations of accidental discharges and labor unrest. Hours before the fatal shooting took place, roughly six crew members walked off the set to protest the working conditions, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times originally published Oct. 22, 2021. Baldwin was an actor in the film as well as a producer.
BREAKING NEWS: Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter in fatal ‘Rust’ shooting: district attorneyhttps://t.co/jMtqsxjtx1
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 19, 2023
Baldwin’s legal representatives released a statement shortly after the announcement criminal charges would be filed against the 64-year-old actor.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds,” his lawyers wrote, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Camera operators and other workers reportedly complained about long hours on the job, long commutes and delayed paychecks while working on the “low-budget” movie, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Three people familiar with the situation alleged standard film industry safety protocols were not enforced on the set of “Rust,” citing two prop guns that were reportedly discharged by accident. At least one of those individuals reportedly complained to a production manager about specific concerns surrounding gun safety, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Baldwin’s stunt double reportedly fired two rounds by mistake after being told the gun was “cold,” a term used to define a weapon that doesn’t contain any ammunition. Two witnesses who observed the alleged accidental discharges spoke out about their experience, the Los Angeles Times continued.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” a crew member told the outlet. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
A text message reviewed by the news outlet allegedly read, “We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe.”
“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company,” Rust Productions said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times following the fatal shooting. “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”
Hutchins herself advocated for safer work conditions on set, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing another crew member. (RELATED: ‘No One Is Above The Law’: Family Of Halyna Hutchins Supports Charges Against Alec Baldwin Over ‘Rust’ Shooting)
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) October 22, 2021
Crew members from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reportedly arrived and set up for work Oct. 21, the day Hutchins was shot, but were then replaced by nonunion crew members, according to sources close to the situation cited by the Los Angeles Times. Production staff reportedly demanded the union members leave the set voluntarily and threatened to have them removed by security if they refused.
“Corners were being cut — and they brought in nonunion people so they could continue shooting,” the source familiar alleged, according to the outlet.
Hutchins was killed shortly thereafter.
— Mike Carter (@MikeCarterTV) January 20, 2023
Baldwin filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in November 2022, naming the first assistant director, armorer, ammunitions supplier and prop master on the ‘Rust’ crew as defendants, according to ABC News.
The actor, as well as the film’s head armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, are currently facing involuntary manslaughter charges.
Under New Mexico law, the first charge brought against Baldwin carries a maximum 18-month jail sentence and a $5,000 fine, according to People. The second charge of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which includes a firearm enhancement, is reportedly more serious. A conviction on this count, including the firearm enhancement, brings with it a mandatory five years in state prison, according to People.