THE decision to drop all charges against Alec Baldwin in connection with the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is a “mockery of justice” and stinks of celebrity favoritism, a veteran prop master claims.
Baldwin, 65, was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in January after fatally shooting Hutchins, 42, on the set of his film Rust in New Mexico in October 2021.
The Oscar nominee was practicing a crusade during a rehearsal in a church when the gun fired, hitting Hutchins in the chest and injuring the production’s director, Joel Souza.
The decision to drop the charges against Baldwin was first announced by his attorneys in a brief statement Thursday afternoon.
Baldwin’s attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, said they were “pleased” with the decision and called for an “appropriate investigation” into the “facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic incident” to be initiated.
Santa Fe prosecutors have not yet commented on the decision or provided details as to why the case was dropped.
However, Bill Davis, a retired police officer who has worked as a gunsmith in more than 300 films and TV shows, slammed the decision in an interview with The US Sun after the news broke.
“This is a farce of justice,” Davis fumed.
“There are three people on set who are equally to blame, Baldwin, the assistant director [David Halls]and the prop girl [Hannah Guiterrez-Reed].
“All three were just as negligent as the others,” he continued.
“I’ve been involved with guns my whole life and there’s no excuse for what happened on that set, it was just plain stupid.
“It’s all really upsetting to me because now he’s going to walk around and look everyone in the face and say, ‘I told you I was innocent.’
“In my opinion at least, he certainly gets special treatment.”
Baldwin has long maintained his innocence and claimed he did not pull the gun trigger.
At his side, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the chief gunsmith of the since-defunct Netflix western, was indicted in January. She still faces two involuntary manslaughter charges.
Assistant director David Halls has already pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge in a deal with prosecutors.
According to court records, it was Halls who handed the gun to Baldwin in the final moments of Hutchins’ life and declared it “cold” – or unloaded – before the fateful shot was fired.
Davis believes that Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed, and Halls are all equally at fault for Hutchins’ deaths because they all failed to follow basic safety practices.
He claimed that the only reason Baldwin escaped punishment is probably because he’s a celebrity and has his pockets deep enough to drag out the process for years.
Gutierrez-Reed, on the other hand, is “toast,” he said.
“It’s definitely favoritism because of who he is,” Davis claimed.
“The girl can’t defend a lengthy case because she doesn’t have the money, while Alec can buy the best there is and take this case to court for years.
“They should have brought him to trial on the involuntary manslaughter charge. I’m sure he had no intention of killing anyone or knowing the gun was loaded, but it was still negligence.
“The Armorer is toast,” he continued. “Your life is ruined.
“Once you get rid of all the defendants and there is only one left, she will bear the brunt of the prosecutor’s wrath.
“She has no leg to stand on […] She didn’t have the training or qualifications at all to do the job. You can’t just walk in and say I’m a gunsmith.”
“DO NOT LOOK GOOD”
In the state of New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter is a Class D felony with a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison.
In a lawsuit against Gutierrez-Reed and other members of the crew last year, Baldwin claimed he pulled the revolver’s hammer back, but not far enough to physically cock the gun.
Then, as Baldwin released the hammer, he claimed the gun fired, hitting Hutchins in the chest and wounding Souza.
Davis previously called the actor’s claims to The US Sun “bulls**t” and insisted the revolver used by Baldwin could never fire unless the trigger was physically pulled.
His assessment was later backed up by an FBI forensic report last August that came to the same conclusion.
In addition, the report noted that 150 live ammunition were found on the set and live ammunition had been loaded into the gun instead of dummy cartridges.
Sources who were on set at the time also claimed Baldwin’s prop cannon was used for live ammunition firing — or “plinking” — on the morning of the fatal shooting.
Davis says the inexperienced Gutierrez-Reed committed a mortal sin by allowing live ammunition anywhere near the set — not to mention allegedly allowing the guns to be used recreationally.
After the shooting, Gutierrez-Reed denied having live ammunition on set in an interview with authorities, a statement the Santa Fe County sheriff later said was “inaccurate.”
In a statement from her then-attorney, the Armor said safety had always been her “top priority on set.”
“Ultimately, this set would never have been compromised if live ammunition had not been introduced. Hannah has no idea where the sharp rounds came from,” her attorneys’ statement said.
Davis, meanwhile, blamed Gutierrez-Reed’s inexperience for the fatal mishap.
Before working on Rust, she had only worked on a handful of productions, including the Nicholas Cage film The Old Way.
Production on the set of this film was temporarily halted after Gutierrez-Reed allegedly handed a gun to an 11-year-old actress without proper security checks, The Daily Beast reported.
“She had no experience to draw on, so she was a baby in the woods,” Davis said.
“She took a job she wasn’t qualified for. So at this point, if I were her, I’d hit a soccer ball right now. And she should be scared as they will try to scare her.
“If it were me – but I would never put myself in that situation – I would expect them to come after me on both runs because I have 30 years of experience at it and I should have known better.
“But with her, you could say she didn’t really know any better […] They apparently had crew members leaving the set because it was unsafe.
“The picture doesn’t look good on her.”
Gutierrez-Reed is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing on May 3.
Her attorney has said she intends to plead not guilty and has said she has no idea how live rounds ended up in the gun Baldwin used.
After charges were brought against her in January, her lawyer called the decision “absolutely wrong”.
“We were expecting the charges, but they are dead wrong about Hannah – we expect a jury to find her not guilty and she did not commit manslaughter,” attorney Jason Bowles wrote in a statement.
“She was emotional about the tragedy but committed no crime.”
David Halls, the first assistant director, was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation as part of his plea deal in March.
Halls, who turned the revolver over to Baldwin before the shooting, was charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon.