The charges against American actor Alec Baldwin, accused of manslaughter after a fatal shooting on the set of the film “Rust” in 2021, will be dropped, his lawyers assured Thursday.
• Read also: Deadly shooting on the film set of the film “Rust”: filming will resume this week
• Read also: Fatal shooting on set: Alec Baldwin pleads not guilty to manslaughter
• Read also: Fatal shooting on a set: abandonment of an aggravating circumstance targeting Alec Baldwin
“We welcome the decision to close the case against Alec Baldwin and encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement sent to AFP.
On October 21, 2021, the filming of the film “Rust” on a ranch in New Mexico had turned tragic when Mr. Baldwin had pointed a weapon supposed to contain only blank bullets, but whose very real projectile had killed the director of photography Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injured director Joel Souza.
This rare news item had shocked Hollywood and provoked calls to ban firearms on the sets.
The announcement of the closing of the case, revealed Thursday by the specialized site Échéance, comes on the same day as the filming of the film resumes in Montana, after a year and a half of interruption.
Alec Baldwin, known in particular for his role in the series “30 Rock”, has always claimed his innocence and had pleaded not guilty to the charge of manslaughter brought against him.
According to the actor, he had been assured that his weapon was harmless. He also denies pulling the trigger, a claim doubted by many experts.
After his indictment, his defense immediately denounced a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.
If convicted, the 65-year-old actor could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Placed under judicial supervision, Mr. Baldwin, who is also co-producer of “Rust”, had been authorized to finish the filming of his western, on the condition of abstaining from drinking alcohol and using firearms. fire or dangerous weapons.
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The case is not over
The prosecution had already shown signs of weakness in this case.
In February, the Santa Fe prosecutor decided to drop an aggravating circumstance against Mr. Baldwin, which made him face five years behind bars.
She then transferred the file to two other prosecutors, ensuring that her services were overwhelmed with work.
However, the case is not over: the two new magistrates must resume the investigation and still have the right to initiate new proceedings.
Like Mr. Baldwin, “Rust” gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with manslaughter. According to Variety magazine, justice maintains these lawsuits for the moment.
During the initial investigation, the police concluded that she was the one who put the ammunition in the gun used by Mr. Baldwin, instead of a dummy bullet.
The armourer’s defense said they expect her to “also be exonerated” at the end of the legal process. In a statement, the lawyers praised the “very diligent and thorough approach” taken by the new prosecutors now in charge of the investigations.
At the end of March, the first assistant director of the film, Dave Halls, received a six-month suspended prison sentence in this case. He had handed the gun at the heart of the drama to the actor, assuring him that she was not dangerous, and he had agreed to plead guilty.
Filming for the film has resumed with Halyna Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, serving as executive producer. In October, he dropped his civil lawsuit against Alec Baldwin after an undisclosed settlement.
The Ukrainian parents and the sister of the ex-director of photography, on the other hand, are still claiming civil damages.
Alongside ‘Rust’, a documentary about Ms Hutchins’ life and the end of filming is also to be made.