Prosecutors indicated Wednesday that actor Alec Baldwin has not been ruled out on criminal charges in the accidental murder of a cinematographer on a film set last week.
Investigators believe Baldwin’s gun fired a single live bullet that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza last Thursday on the set of the low-budget western “Rust” that was being filmed in New Mexico. .
Appearing alongside Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said that while the man who handed the gun to Baldwin admitted that he did not thoroughly review it, it was not out of the question that the Hollywood star – who also served as the film’s producer – could be charged.
“All options are on the table. No one has been ruled out at this time, “he said at a press conference.
Carmack-Altwies said investigators still couldn’t say if it was negligence or by whom. She called it a complex case that will require further investigation and analysis.
“It will take a lot more facts, corroborated facts, before we can reach that standard of criminal negligence,” he said.
Investigators said they planned to follow up on reports of other gun misfire-related incidents on set.
Deputy Director Dave Halls told detectives he remembers seeing ammunition in the vintage gun before turning it over to Baldwin. Filmmakers sometimes use inert or dummy bullets in props.
“He advised me that I should have checked all of them, but he didn’t, and I couldn’t remember if [armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed] he spun the drum “to show him what was inside the gun, says an affidavit.
Halls handed Baldwin the gun using the phrase “cold pistol,” industry jargon for an inert firearm.
The investigation has recovered 500 rounds of ammunition from the set, Sheriff Adan Mendoza told reporters, adding that detectives believe they were a mix of blank bullets, dummies and real rounds.
Entertainment trading website The Wrap reported this week that crew members had been using support weapons just hours before Hutchins was killed, shooting tin cans for target practice.
“We have brought back what we believe are possible additional live rounds on set,” Mendoza said.
“We are going to determine how they got there, why they were there, why they shouldn’t have been there. I think there was some complacency on this set, “he added.
Mike Tristano, a veteran gunsmith or movie weapons specialist, was alarmed to hear that live rounds were mixed with blank bullets and dummy rounds.
“I find it awful,” Tristano said. “In over 600 movies and TV shows I’ve done, we’ve never had a live round on set.”
The shooting has baffled Hollywood professionals and sparked calls to better regulate firearms on sets or even ban them in the era of smooth CGI.
As gunsmith on the film, Gutiérrez-Reed, 24, would have been responsible for supplying and keeping the guns safe on set, making sure they are accounted for at all times and locked away when not in use.
She told detectives that on the day of the incident the weapons were secured while the crew ate lunch, but the ammunition was not, according to the affidavit.
Mendoza told reporters that more questions were being asked of people who “inspected or tampered with the firearm … before it reached Mr. Baldwin.”
“We’re going to try to determine exactly how that happened and if they should have known there was a live bullet in that firearm.”
“Rust” crew members had complained about lax protocols on set, and a gun was mistakenly fired at least twice on set in the days leading up to Hutchins’ death, multiple US media reported.
Legal experts told AFP that while there is no question that the 63-year-old Baldwin pulled the trigger, it is unlikely that he will be charged with a crime.
“[Baldwin] He seems to have reasonably believed that it was not a loaded gun, ”said Gregory Keating, a law professor at the University of Southern California. This fact would leave him a little far from being guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Most likely, said legal consultant Bryan Sullivan, Baldwin and their fellow producers (there are 12 people credited with variations in this role) are likely to face civil damages action.
“I anticipate that they will all be sued,” he said.
Baldwin is expected to be named in any lawsuit because of his deep pockets and because his fame would help attract media coverage, according to Sullivan.
“A plaintiff’s attorney would definitely want to name Alec Baldwin to get the money,” he added.