Alec Baldwin Charges Dropped in Rust Shooting Death

In a significant legal development, special prosecutors have announced that all charges will be dropped against actor Alec Baldwin and the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, in connection with the fatal shooting on the set of the film “Rust” in October 2021. The shooting resulted in the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

The announcement comes less than two weeks before a mini-trial was set to begin in New Mexico. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were charged in late January with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and faced a maximum of 18 months in prison and about $5,000 in fines if found guilty​.

In a statement, Baldwin’s attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, expressed their satisfaction with the decision to dismiss the charges and urged a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the accident. Reed’s lawyers, Jason Bowles and Todd Bulllion, also welcomed the diligent approach taken by the new special prosecutor team, which includes Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis, and stated that they expect Hannah Gutierrez-Reed to be exonerated​.

The dismissal of charges is “without prejudice,” meaning the case could potentially be resurrected at a later date. This is particularly relevant as the prosecutors are set to further investigate the details of the incident, including the state of the firearm used during the shooting. Baldwin has insisted that he did not pull the trigger on the prop gun, a claim that the FBI has disputed in its report released last year. Baldwin’s lawyers have contested the state of the gun, and further investigation into whether the firearm was modified is expected​.

The decision to drop the charges follows a series of legal developments, including the stepping down of Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies from the case last month, and the appointment of Morrissey and Lewis as special prosecutors. This change came after the DA encountered several legal obstacles, including the dismissal of a firearm enhancement charge and the loss of a previous special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb​.

In addition to the criminal charges, the Hutchins estate had settled a wrongful death suit against Rust Movie Productions LLC and Baldwin in October. As part of the settlement, Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, is executive producing a revived version of the “Rust” movie, as well as a documentary on his wife’s life and career. The settlement was recently ordered sealed to protect the privacy of the Hutchins’ young son​.

Interestingly, the announcement of the charges being dropped coincides with the start of production on the resurrected “Rust” film in Montana, set to begin this week. Both Baldwin and director Joel Souza, who was wounded in the 2021 shooting, are involved in the project. Despite the timing, it is stated that the dropping of charges and the start of the new production are purely coincidental​.