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A lawyer representing actor Adam Baldwin slammed the criminal charges brought against him Thursday over the accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins in 2021 on the set of the film “Rust.”
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced that Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was the armorer on the set where Hutchins was fatally shot, were each charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Baldwin attorney Luke Nikas said in a statement.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” the statement added. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
In New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison. However, because a firearm was involved, the punishment for a conviction could be bumped to a mandatory five years in jail.
After the charges were announced, Hutchins’ family released a statement through their attorney, Brian Panish.
“We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life,” the statement said. “Our independent investigation also supports that charges are warranted. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.”
The charges come after the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office turned over a 500-page report on its investigation to prosecutors in October. The report contains redactions, but the investigation found that Baldwin fired a gun with live ammunition. The report also paints a chaotic picture of what happened the day of the shooting, as well as documents repeated problems with firearms on the set.
A report signed by the New Mexico chief medical investigator found Hutchins’ death to be an “accident,” according to CNN.
“Review of available law enforcement reports showed no compelling demonstration that the firearm was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on set. Based on all available information, including the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death, the manner of death is best classified as accident,” the report said.
Baldwin has rejected culpability in Hutchins’ death. In December 2021, Baldwin told George Stephanopoulos in an interview on ABC News that “I didn’t pull the trigger” of the prop gun that fired and killed Hutchins. Baldwin further denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death.
“I feel that someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me,” Baldwin told the host. “I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don’t say that lightly.”
Tim Pearce contributed to this report.