Prosecutors downgrade charges against Alec Baldwin for ‘Rust’ shooting

SANTA FE COUNTY, N.M. — Prosecutors in New Mexico have downgraded charges filed against actor Alec Baldwin for the deadly shooting on the set of the movie “Rust.”

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The Santa Fe County District Attorney had initially charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter under a version of a New Mexico firearm law passed months after the deadly shooting in October 2021, the New York Times reported.

That law, called a firearm enhancement, would have increased prison time in the case of a conviction. Had Baldwin been convicted under the law, he would have faced a minimum of five years in prison. Now, he faces a maximum of 18 months in prison, the Times reported.

Baldwin’s attorneys had fought the enhancement in court, saying that the 2022 version of the law should not be applied to the 2021 shooting, CBS News reported.

Baldwin and movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. David Halls, the movie’s assistant director, signed a plea agreement for one count of negligent use of a deadly weapon and was given a suspended sentence and six months of probation.

Involuntary manslaughter is a charge brought when unintentional negligence leads to a person’s death, according to USA Today.

In a statement to the New York Times, a spokesperson for the Santa Fe district attorney said that the prosecution dropped the firearm enhancement “to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys.”

“If any one of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed to the case, said in a statement when the charges were initially filed.

Baldwin has maintained he is not criminally responsible for the shooting, which happened when the gun he was holding on set fired. Baldwin has said he was told the gun he was handed was “cold,” meaning it did not contain live rounds and was safe to handle, the New York Times reported.

Prosecutors also downgraded charges filed against Gutierrez-Reed, CBS News reported.