The actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal film-set shooting of a cinematographer during a rehearsal of the western film Rust, according to reports.

The film’s armorer overseeing weapons, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting in New Mexico in 2021.

The Santa Fe district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, announced the charges on Thursday in a statement and on social media, without public appearances by prosecutors.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded by a gunshot during set-up for a scene at the ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on 21 October 2021. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.

Santa Fe’s county sheriff, Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death, described “a degree of neglect” on the film set. But he left decisions about potential criminal charges to prosecutors after delivering the results of a yearlong investigation in October. That report did not specify how live ammunition wound up on the film set.

Taking control of the investigation, Carmack-Altwies was granted an emergency $300,000 request for the state to pay for a special prosecutor, special investigator and other experts and personnel.

Baldwin – known for his roles in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October and his impression of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live – has described the killing of Hutchins as a “tragic accident”.

He has sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun that was handed to him on set. Baldwin, also a co-producer on Rust, said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins during rehearsal for a scene, he pointed the gun in her direction and pulled back and released the hammer of the gun, which discharged.

New Mexico’s office of the medical investigator determined the shooting was an accident following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports.

New Mexico’s occupational health and safety bureau has levied the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions, based on a scathing narrative of safety failures, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires of blank ammunition on set before the fatal shooting.

Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the basis of a $137,000 fine by regulators who say production managers on the set failed to follow standard industry protocols for firearms safety.

The armorer who oversaw firearms on the set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, has been the subject of much of the scrutiny in the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. An attorney for Gutierrez Reed has said the armorer did not put a live round in the gun that killed Hutchins, and believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they had found no evidence of that.

Source: Guardian

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