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US prosecutors drop charges against Alec Baldwin in Rust’s death | Court News

Baldwin’s attorney said New Mexico prosecutors dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge in the fatal incident on set.

Prosecutors in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico plan to drop criminal charges against his client following a deadly shooting on the set of the 2021 film “Rust,” the attorney for actor Alec Baldwin said.

“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss Alec Baldwin’s case,” Baldwin’s attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, said in a statement Thursday. We encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.”

Prosecutors for New Mexico’s 1st Judicial District did not immediately respond.

Baldwin, 65, previously faced felony manslaughter charges in connection with the Oct. 21, 2021, on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

The actor and producer was filming a western on a ranch south of Santa Fe when a prop gun he was holding exploded, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

Aerial view of a desert movie set filled with small houses and buildings
The death occurred during the shooting at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico [File: Drone Base/Reuters]

In January, New Mexico prosecutors filed charges against Baldwin, alleging he did not participate in mandatory firearms training prior to filming and failed to adhere to safety standards on set.

“Baldwin’s failure to ensure that minimum standards were met was considered reckless in the industry,” prosecutors wrote in a statement of probable cause. “This reckless departure from known standards, practices and protocols contributed directly to the deadly shooting.”

They added that Baldwin showed “negligent” behavior by pointing a real gun at Sosa and Hutchins and keeping his finger on the trigger.

Baldwin pleaded not guilty to the charges and insisted he did not believe the gun was loaded.

He also initially said he hadn’t pulled the trigger, but a subsequent FBI investigation revealed the gun was “functional” or would not have fired.

In February, however, prosecutors agreed to lower the charges against Baldwin after his legal team argued it was illegal to charge him under the gun enhancement laws passed after the shooting.

The gun hardening law sets the minimum sentence for a guilty verdict at five years. Removal of the enhancements reduces the maximum prison sentence to 18 months.

Prosecutors have also faced two high-profile departures in recent months.

Special prosecutor Andrea Reeb was forced to step down in March after Baldwin’s lawyers argued her appointment was unconstitutional, as she had also been recently elected to the state legislature.

Shortly thereafter, Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis also dropped out of the case, and two new special prosecutors were appointed.

Baldwin had previously reached a settlement with the Hutchins family, who called the shooting a “terrible accident.”

As part of the settlement, her widower, Matthew Hutchins, was named executive producer of the film, which resumed shooting Thursday at the Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana.

Rust’s weapons director, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, also faces manslaughter charges for her involvement in the fatal shooting, and has also pleaded not guilty.

Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, issued a statement saying he was aware of Thursday’s developments but that the charges against his client were not dropped. However, he added that he hoped his client would be found not guilty.

Earlier this year, assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls took issue with the negligent use of a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to six months probation, a $500 fine and community service on March 31.

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