Charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the death of the cinematographer whom authorities said he shot on the set of the movie “Rust” are possible, according to the district attorney investigating the killing.
“We haven’t ruled out anything,” Mary Carmack-Altwies, the district attorney in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, told The New York Times. “Everything at this point, including criminal charges, is on the table.”
On Thursday, Baldwin, who was filming “Rust,” a western, in Santa Fe County, drew his gun and pointed it at the camera for a scene in the film and fired. Halyna Hutchins, 42, who was directing photography for the movie, was killed. Director Joe Souza, 48, was injured in the incident and treated at a nearby hospital before being released.
Carmack-Altwies said that as of now, the ballistics end of the investigation is the prime focus, along with developing a full chain of events concerning who handled the gun.
“There were an enormous amount of bullets on this set, and we need to find out what kinds they were,” Carmack-Altwies told the Times.
Three revolvers have been recovered, along with ammunition that was both packed in boxes and loose, according to detectives.
Carmack-Altwies said the “prop gun” term that has been used is misleading.
“It was a legit gun,” she said. “It was an antique-era appropriate gun.”
According to an affidavit cited by the Times, assistant director Dave Halls called out “cold gun” when he handed the weapon to Baldwin. Halls had gone outside a church where filming was taking place to remove the gun from a cart. The gun had been put there by Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer.
Carmack-Altwies said no quick resolution to the case is in sight.
“It’s probably weeks, if not months, of follow-up investigation that we’re going to need to get to the point of charging,” she said, according to the Times.
Albuquerque criminal-defense attorney Erlinda Johnson said charges of involuntary manslaughter could be lodged against anyone involved in the tragedy, according to People.
“Whoever handles the firearm has a duty to check it for any live rounds,” Johnson said.
Civil suits are guaranteed regardless of any criminal charges, said David Ring, a Los Angeles trial attorney.
Baldwin is “absolutely going to get named in any wrongful-death lawsuit. You just have to show that there was negligence that led to the shooting, and it’s a much lower standard than a criminal case,” Ring said.
“Obviously there’s negligence, and it just depends on who was negligent. But ultimately the production company is in charge. It happened on their watch.”
The production company for the film is Rust Movie Productions, of which Baldwin is a member.
Neama Rahmani, from the personal injury firm West Coast Trial Lawyers, told USA Today that charges could be filed against Baldwin.
“Let’s say it was loaded with a blank, but Baldwin himself was criminally negligent and shot it from close range, even though it wasn’t a live round. Then he could be held liable,” Rahmani said.
“Assuming it was just incompetence or a colossal mistake, that rises to the level of criminal negligence, which would be sufficient for a manslaughter prosecution.”
Rachel Fiset, managing partner of Los Angeles firm Zweiback, Fiset & Coleman, said the issue goes beyond Baldwin.
“Proper compliance with safety issues on the set will be a large, general question that will be asked that may have a huge impact on any potential legal matters that may come from this case,” she said.
“And then on the worst side of the scale, you could have potential criminal issues that would range from criminal negligence to intentional acts that may have caused this tragedy.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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