Alec Baldwin could again face criminal charges over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a New Mexico film set, with special prosecutors announcing Tuesday they plan to present their investigation of the actor to a grand jury.
Baldwin, 65, had originally been charged with involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act stemming from the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting of Hutchins with a prop gun wielded by the actor on the set of “Rust.”
But in April, prosecutors said “new facts” had emerged that left them unable to immediately proceed with the criminal case against Baldwin based on “the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement in its existing form.” They warned, however, that the decision “does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be re-filed.”
On Tuesday, special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis said that is now a possibility, with plans to present the case to a Santa Fe grand jury within the next two months to “determine whether probable cause exists to bind Baldwin over on criminal charges.”
“After extensive investigation over the past several months, additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of (director) Joel Souza,” Morrissey and Lewis said in a joint statement. “We believe the appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr. Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial.”
News of the possible renewed criminal case was first reported by NBC News. An unidentified source told the network that prosecutors had found new evidence suggesting a connection between Baldwin — a producer of “Rust” — and “recklessness around safety standards on the set.”
In a statement to NBC News, Baldwin attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said, “It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution. We will answer any charges in court.”
Hutchins, 42, was fatally shot with a bullet discharged from a prop weapon wielded by Baldwin, who was holding the gun while helping to set camera angles for an upcoming scene. The bullet also struck and wounded Souza.
Baldwin has insisted he was told the gun was “cold,” or contained no live rounds. He has also insisted that while he pulled back the hammer on the weapon, he never pulled the trigger.
The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting and is awaiting trial. She has also denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of how live ammunition wound up on the set.
When charges were dropped against Baldwin in April, some reports suggested that the case against the actor was weakened by evidence showing that the gun he was holding had been modified, making it possible to misfire without the trigger being pulled. Baldwin has maintained that he never pulled the trigger on the weapon.
NBC News reported Tuesday that prosecutors no longer believe the weapon had been modified.
Nikas said previously Baldwin bore no responsibility in the shooting, saying he was assured the gun contained no live ammunition, and he “relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”
Attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed have also denied that she did anything wrong, even suggesting at one point that others on the set tried to “sabotage” the production by mixing live rounds with blanks.
The film’s assistant director, David Halls, pleaded no contest to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon in exchange for a suspended sentence and six months probation.
Filming on “Rust” was suspended after the shooting, but resumed earlier this year, with Hutchins’ husband serving as a producer under the terms of a lawsuit settlement.
City News Service contributed to this article.