NEW: Alec Baldwin recharged with involuntary manslaughter in ‘Rust’ shooting
There are not two systems of justice when a movie star pulls the trigger, ignores all gun safety rules and kills a woman
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Alec Baldwin did not, after all, get off scot-free for shooting and killing his cinematographer two years ago this month.
New Mexico prosecutors emailed media Tuesday they are convening a grand jury to bring involuntary manslaughter charges— again— against Baldwin. The actor and producer of “Rust” was charged in January, but he got off by claiming the gun’s trigger malfunctioned.
Baldwin to court
The email that I got from Special Prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis is at the bottom of this newsletter.
They said in part that “additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza.”
Baldwin left Hutchins and Souza bleeding out on the floor of the movie set while he smoked and made calls outside.
The special prosecutors wrote that the “appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr. Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial.”
One of the "new facts” that has “come to light” is the trigger worked just fine.
“The forensic testing of the gun concluded with certainty that the trigger of the gun had to have been pulled for the gun to go off,” Morrissey told The New York Times in an interview.
Morrissey said the grand jury, which will get the case on Nov. 16, should make the decision “about the level of culpability of the person holding the gun in their hand.”
Baldwin told the sheriff and several media outlets after the shooting that he did not pull the trigger during a rehearsal.
The sheriff later released a video that showed Baldwin with his finger on the trigger (that’s the screen cap above) and practicing the same cross-draw maneuver with the Colt .45 revolver. An FBI forensics analysis and a second scientific study of the gun by the current special prosecutors proved that it functioned normally.
Criminal charges redux
Before today’s announcement, Baldwin’s lawyers were in discussions about a plea deal for a petty misdemeanor, according to NBC News. The deal was rescinded over the weekend. That’s no surprise because Baldwin has refused to admit blame publicly in his civil settlements.
(Don’t forget— The $25 million defamation lawsuit against Baldwin by the Gold Star fallen Marine family is not resolved or settled. More here on that case. Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Nikas has not returned my emails about the status of it.)
Lukas also did not respond to my email today about Baldwin being recharged but told the NYT: “It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution. We will answer any charges in court.”
The other “new fact” the prosecutor’s reference is likely internal documents a judge made the “Rust” production turnover about Baldwin’s role as a producer cutting corners to save money. NBC reported the evidence “connects Baldwin to recklessness around safety standards on the set.”
High and dry
Baldwin has said publicly he knows and follows the three gun safety rules. Yet, he admitted pointing the gun at Hutchins and not checking if it was loaded with real ammunition. This was the only time that day that Baldwin did not ask the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, to show him the ammo directly.
Reed was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly loading the “live” rounds into the revolver. Her lawyer Jason Bowles told me Tuesday that he will not be commenting now on Baldwin getting recharged.
Reed didn’t even give the gun to Baldwin. David Halls, the assistant director, took the gun from the cart outside the set and gave it to the actor on set. Halls pled guilty to firearms charges and will have to testify against Baldwin and Reed at any trial.
Baldwin told the sheriff’s detectives that he did training with Reed on the set before rehearsals started. However, prosecutors said that’s false.
They wrote to the court that Baldwin “failed to appear for mandatory firearms training and firearms safety training prior to filming.” The prosecution also alleges that Baldwin asked for only a 30-minute training session on set which “does not compost to industry standards, safety standards and safety protocols.”