It’s been a year and a half since camerawoman Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot while filming the western film Rust. Now the legal processing of the tragedy is taking a big step forward: the public prosecutor’s office in the US state of New Mexico has brought charges against actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Both are now facing charges of involuntary manslaughter in a Santa Fe court. In the case of a guilty verdict with aggravating circumstances, there is a risk of up to five years in prison. The public prosecutor’s office had already announced the move in mid-January.

In Baldwin’s case, prosecutors spoke of several “extremely reckless acts” or reckless failure to protect themselves in the days and minutes before the fatal shot. Baldwin, who also served as the film’s producer in addition to his starring role, operated the gun that fired the fatal shot while rehearsing a scene on October 21, 2021. Hutchins died a little later, director Joel Souza was hit in the shoulder and injured.

Investigators have accused Baldwin of pulling out an actual revolver and firing it in Hutchins’ direction, even though replicas would normally be used in the industry in such a situation. Footage of the rehearsal situation shows Baldwin’s finger near the trigger. The FBI analyzed that the pistol could not be fired without pulling the trigger. Baldwin has also been accused of failing to take part in firearms training on the film set. But there were also multiple violations of safety requirements and protocols that resulted in Baldwin being handed a loaded gun in the first place.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed maintain their innocence and have announced that they will deny the allegations. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe that the gun was loaded with live ammunition or that there was such a round anywhere on the set,” Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said in a previous statement. “He trusted the professionals he worked with.”

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said they were “completely focused on justice for Halyna Hutchins” and that “the evidence and the facts speak for themselves.”

ehl/mak (dpa, afp, ap)

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