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Charge to be dropped in Alec Baldwin movie set shooting

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Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-20 16:33:36-04

Prosecutors in New Mexico plan to drop an involuntary manslaughter charge against Alec Baldwin in the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the Western film “ Rust," Baldwin's attorneys said Thursday.

“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," Baldwin's attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement.

Baldwin and the film's weapons supervisor, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, were both charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting.

Prosecutors didn’t immediately comment on the case. It wasn’t immediately clear whether charges could be refiled, nor whether the charge would also be dropped against Gutierrez-Reed.

Baldwin was pointing a pistol at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal when the gun when off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has said the gun went off accidentally and that he did not pull the trigger. An FBI forensic report found the weapon could not have fired unless the trigger was pulled.

The case against Baldwin had already been diminishing. A weapons charge that would have meant a much longer sentence had already been dismissed, and the first special prosecutor appointed in the case resigned.

The charges against Baldwin had marked a stunning fall for an A-list actor whose 40-year career included the early blockbuster “The Hunt for Red October” and a starring role in the sitcom “30 Rock,” as well as iconic appearances in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and a film adaptation of David Mamet’s “Glengary Glen Ross.” In recent years, he was known for his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live."

The 65-year-old worked little since the shooting but hardly went into hiding. He stayed active on social media, making Instagram videos and posting picture of his wife and seven children.

“Rust” safety coordinator and assistant director David Halls pleaded no contest in March to a conviction for unsafe handling of a firearm and a suspended sentence of six months of probation.

News of the dismissal came on the day that filming on the movie, relocated to Montana, was expected to restart.

Melina Spadone, attorney for the production company behind the movie, said via a representative this week that filming would restart Thursday at the Yellowstone Film Ranch.

Plans to resume filming were outlined last year by widower Matthew Hutchins in a proposed settlement to a wrongful death lawsuit that would make him an executive producer. Souza has said he will return to directing “Rust” production to honor the legacy of Halyna Hutchins.

After a scathing safety review by regulators in New Mexico that detailed ignored complaints and misfires before Hutchins' death in October of 2021, the production company agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.

Baldwin had yet to even travel to New Mexico for a court appearance, and none had been required of him under state law. Evidentiary hearings had been scheduled for next month to determine whether to proceed toward trial.

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies had said previously that her office is pursuing justice in the death of Hutchins and wants to show that no one is above the law when it comes to firearms and public safety. She says the Ukrainian-born cinematographer’s death was tragic and preventable.