Actor Alec Baldwin has been indicted by a grand jury on an involuntary manslaughter charge relating to the tragic 2021 shooting on the set of the film “Rust.” The indictment was confirmed on Friday.
Baldwin, an actor and producer, discharged a prop firearm during a rehearsal, which unexpectedly contained a live round. This resulted in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza.
However, a firearms expert’s report suggested that the gun’s trigger would have needed to be pulled to fire.
The case was presented to a grand jury of 12 members at the First Judicial District Court of New Mexico in Santa Fe, beginning on Thursday. A minimum of eight jurors were required to reach a consensus on the existence of probable cause for an indictment.
The indictment comes exactly one year after initial charges were announced against Baldwin. His attorneys have expressed readiness to defend the case in court. “We look forward to our day in court,” attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro told CNN in a statement.
The indictment included two counts of involuntary manslaughter, however, Baldwin can be found guilty of only one. The graver charge, a felony, alleges that he showed a “total disregard or indifference for the safety of others.” The second count accuses him of negligent firearm use. According to the indictment, several witnesses from the film gave testimony to the grand jury.
In October, a forensic report concluded that the trigger of the prop Colt .45 revolver had been pulled “sufficiently” enough to cause the gun to fire.
According to the firearms report, which was commissioned by the State of New Mexico: “Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”
The Santa Fe County District Attorney’s Office initially charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter, but the charges were later dismissed. However, subsequent court filings hinted at potential recharging based on an ongoing gun investigation.
In August 2022, the FBI stated that Baldwin likely pulled the trigger, a claim his lawyer contested. Baldwin has consistently denied pulling the trigger. By April the charges against Baldwin were dropped.
Prior to the incident, there were concerns over working conditions, low pay, lack of adequate hotel rooms, delayed payments, poor COVID-19 safety, and inadequate firearms safety protocols on the set. Two prop guns had misfired before the incident.
On the morning of the shooting, seven unionized members of the film’s camera crew walked out due to disputes. During a rehearsal of a gunfight scene at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, three guns were prepared for the scene, including the one involved in the incident.
During the rehearsal, Baldwin was explaining how he would draw the gun when it discharged unexpectedly, hitting cinematographer Hutchins in the chest and director Joel Souza in the shoulder. Hutchins later succumbed to her injuries. Emergency services were called immediately after the incident.