Well, it really happened. Alec Baldwin has officially been charged with involuntary manslaughter for his role in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
He and Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of weapon safety on the western, were both charged in new court on Tuesday. The probable cause statement laid out the entire event in the most matter-of-fact terms:
“The set-up was to be a close-up on BALDWIN and the firearm, as he drew the weapon and pointed it. Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza were viewing the practice scene on a monitor attached to the camera. BALDWIN drew the revolver from the holster, pointed it at Halyna Hutchins, and fired the weapon. When reviewing the script and witness interviews, for this particular scene and close-up shot, evidence indicates the scene/shot did not require the weapon to be fired. It was also determined by consultation with expert armorers that in a rehearsal, a plastic gun or replica gun should be used as no firing of blanks is required. However, BALDWIN fired the single action 45 long colt revolver resulting in the discharge of a projectile that struck ‘and traveled through right armpit area of Halyna Hutchins, exited her back (from the OMI’s official report), then struck Joel Souza in the right shoulder and lodged into his right back.”
The most important words there, of course? Baldwin “fired the weapon.” The doc even explicitly notes that Baldwin “approached responding deputies on the day of the shooting, wanting to talk to them because he was the one who ‘fired’ the gun.”
However, he has since denied he ever “fired” the gun — something that shocked a lot of people who have followed the story. He told George Stephanopoulos in his first TV interview:
“The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger. I would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger on them, never.”
Coming out with that defensive a stance — a statement that seemed to shirk responsibility — may have damned him in the long run. The probable cause statement specifically mentions his “inconsistent accounts” of what happened in “multiple media interviews”:
“Many media interviews and law enforcement interviews were conducted by BALDWIN, and he displayed very inconsistent accounts of what happened during the incident when firing the gun that killed HUTCHINS.”
Wow. If there’s one thing prosecutors tend to pounce on, it’s lying. It implies a guilty mind, something to hide.
As for what actually happened, the doc describes “photo and video evidence” from inside the church where the rehearsal was taking place that show Alec with his finger on the trigger:
“The photos and videos clearly show BALDWIN, multiple times, with his finger inside. | of the trigger guard and on the trigger, while manipulating the hammer and while drawing, ‘pointing, and holstering the revolver.”
Meaning he wasn’t in a safe position — he could easily have accidentally pulled the trigger without even trying.
Furthermore, the FBI crime lab rigorously tested the gun to try to make it go off accidentally, without pulling the trigger — and they couldn’t. So they determined he did pull the trigger, intentionally or not, and then tried to lie about it.
The doc also says Baldwin “was not present for required firearms training prior to the commencement of filming” — as he was on his phone. Then on the day “failed to demand at least two safety checks between the armorer and himself and witnessing the handling of firearms by a first assistant director”:
“Standard protocol is the armorer is to show the actor the firearm, pull the bullets out in front of the actor, and demonstrate there are no live rounds (but dummies) in the firearm. BALDWIN knows this is standard safety protocol as he has mentioned it in media interviews and in law enforcement interviews.”
Once again, those interviews came back to bite him. This is why lawyers always tell you never to speak in public about these things.
Baldwin — also a producer on the film — failed to get his required safety training and then failed to make sure there was proper safety on the day, including putting his finger on the trigger and pulling it. As the doc says, even without that extra training Baldwin should know from his many films using firearms that “the first rule of gun safety is never point a gun at someone you don’t intend on shooting.” Prosecutors concluded:
“Baldwin’s deviation from known standards, practice and protocol directly caused the fatal death of Hutchins. Baldwin acted with willful disregard for the safety of others and in a manner which endangered other people.”
As for Gutierrez-Reed, it wasn’t just the fact she didn’t make sure Baldwin got his safety training and that he went through all safety protocols that day. The doc says there were five other live rounds in addition to the one that killed Halyna Hutchins found on the set. That is the responsibility of the armorer. Seems pretty simple.
What do YOU think of these charges, Perezcious readers??
[Image via ABC News/YouTube/Alec Baldwin/Instagram.]