DA drops gun enhancement charge against Alec Baldwin in ‘Rust’ shooting

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office confirmed Monday it is dropping the gun enhancement charge against Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust.”

In October 2021, actor Alec Baldwin held the gun that shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while on the movie set of “Rust” in Santa Fe. Baldwin has always said the shooting was accidental. 

According to police, Baldwin was practicing his gun draw when the gun went off. The alleged accident killed Hutchins. 

Now, Baldwin and the set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have both been charged with involuntary manslaughter. 

Originally, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies included a “gun enhancement charge” for both.  

But what does that mean? KOB 4 asked legal expert Ahmad Assed. 

“The reason why there are certain statutes, criminal statutes that carry enhancements, firearm enhancements to certain charges, really is the expression of the legislation of the Legislature, and they’re in their quest to mandate a specific sentence relative to the charge that they believe requires a more than mandatory charge in,” said Assed. 

The enhancement meant the pair were facing a mandatory five-year sentence if convicted, but that’s not the case anymore. 

The shooting happened in October 2021 and since then, the firearm enhancement statute in New Mexico has changed. 

According to a motion asking to dismiss the charge filed by Baldwin’s attorneys, the old phrasing says a “firearm has to be ‘brandished.'”

“Brandished itself is, is essentially taking out the weapon in an attempt to pursue and intimidation of that person that you’re pointing to. So brandishing the weapon basically, is a signal to another person, and that the intention, so doing is to intimidate the individual,” Assed said. 

“Brandishing” was changed to “discharged” in 2022, well after the shooting happened. So Baldwin’s attorneys argued the firearm enhancement could not apply.

On Monday, the Santa Fe DA announced the gun enhancement charges were dropped for Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the DA’s office said:

“In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the “Rust” film set. The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”

Baldwin’s attorneys have secured a win ahead of a possible trial. 

“You’re feeling a lot better moving forward to trial, and not feeling as that there is a risk in so doing mandatory prison sentence, right. So it’s a good day for the defense,” said Assed. 

Previously, Baldwin and Reed were facing at least five years in prison if they were convicted.

KOB 4 reached out to Baldwin’s attorneys about the downgraded charges but have not yet heard back. 

Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed, and “Rust” assistant director Dave Halls are expected to make their first court appearances, virtually, Friday.