Lawyers representing Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have vowed to fight her involuntary manslaughter charges.
New Mexico authorities announced on Thursday they would charge both Gutierrez-Reed and actor Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021.
The prosecutors say Baldwin did, in fact, pull the trigger on the prop gun that killed the 43-year-old mother, while Gutierrez-Reed, 25, failed to ensure the guns on set did not contain live rounds.
They both face a minimum of five years in prison if convicted.
But Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers argue she does not deserve the same charges as the embattled 64-year-old 30 Rock star.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 25, is facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the October 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins
Hutchins, 43, was an up-and-coming cinematographer when, prosecutors say, actor Alec Baldwin pulled the trigger on a prop gun and killed her
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys say the charges are the result of a ‘very flawed investigation’
In a statement, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys asserted her innocence in the fatal shooting.
‘Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident,’ the statement says. ‘But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter.’
They continue to say that ‘theses charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts.
‘We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.’
But Andrea Reed, a special prosecutor on the case, said Gutierrez-Reed was responsible for ensuring the guns on set did not contain live rounds.
She said the armorer — who first trained on sets with her father, Thell Reed — should have followed proper protocol by taking each round out of the gun and shaking them in front of Baldwin to confirm all of the bullets are dummies, the New York Times reports.
Gutierrez-Reed has previously claimed she was not allowed into the church on the Santa Fe set under the production’s COVID protocols, according to the Washington Post.
Still, she told investigators in the immediate aftermath of the October 2021 shooting, she had checked the gun and all six cartridges she loaded into Baldwin’s gun earlier in the day.
But she also admitted to investigators: ‘I wish I would’ve checked it more.’
And under New Mexico law, jurors are instructed to convict an involuntary manslaughter defendant if they conclude the person ‘should have known of the dangers involved’ and ‘acted with a willful disregard to the safety of others.’
Gutierrez-Reed is pictured here in the aftermath of the fatal shooting she has said upended her career. Her lawyers now say they will fight the involuntary manslaughter charges
Gutierrez-Reed told investigators following the shooting that she had checked Baldwin’s weapon earlier in the day
She later admitted ‘I wish I would’ve checked it more.’ Under New Mexico law, jurors are instructed to convict an involuntary manslaughter defendant if they conclude the person ‘should have known of the dangers involved’ and ‘acted with a willful disregard to the safety of others’
Gutierez-Reed’s lawyers have previously said she was forced to serve two different roles on the set — as both the armorer and props assistant — which made it difficult for her to focus on her job as armorer.
In a civil lawsuit filed last year, she claimed that Seth Kenney and his company PDQ Arm and Prop LLC for allegedly supplying the deadly bullet.
She also faulted assistant director David Halls for failing to follow set protocol when he allegedly handed Baldwin the weapon without first calling on her to inspect it, according to the lawsuit. He has since pleaded to the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
According to the suit, Gutierrez-Reed said her father worked with Kenney on a previous film, where they trained actors at a licensed shooting range using live ammunition.
About a month later, Gutierrez-Reed landed a gig as an armorer and props assistant on ‘Rust,’ where she was tasked with juggling two jobs at once.
‘This gun heavy script required Hannah to perform a significant amount of work each day as both an armorer and key props assistant,’ the legal filing said.
She was soon joined on set by props manager Sarah Zachry, who later accidentally fired a blank round at her foot on set, the lawsuit said.
About 20 minutes after that mishap, Baldwin’s stunt double also accidentally discharged a weapon on set, prompting Gutierrez-Reed to confront her colleague about the sloppy mistakes, the lawsuit said.
The armorer’s lawyers have previously said she was forced to work two jobs on the set of the western
Gutierrez-Reed said in a lawsuit filed last year that she was met with hostility by bullet supplier Seth Kenney when she revealed her intentions of reporting accidental discharges on set to producers
But when she indicated her intentions of reporting the incident to management, she said, Kenney became upset.
‘Accidental discharges are accidents,’ Kenney said in a text message referenced in the legal filing. ‘We learn and move on, and don’t forget, she’s your boss. Don’t push it.’
On the morning of the shooting, October 21, Gutierrez-Reed said she arrived to the set to find Zachry already in the prop trailer, retrieving fire arms.
She also discovered a full box labeled ‘dummy rounds .45 LC’ that someone placed atop her equipment bag, the lawsuit said.
She believes the box came from Kenney and when she shook it, heard a ‘jingling’ sound which is what it’s supposed to sound like when dummy bullets are being rattled.
Later that morning, she said she, Zachry and another coworker loaded Baldwin’s gun, attempting to use dummy rounds from the box.
‘For Alec Baldwin’s gun, Hannah loaded 4 dummy rounds with holes in them from her pants pocket, a 5th dummy round from the box with a hole in it and attempted to load a 6th dummy round without a hole in it from the box but it would not go into the chamber, and she thought the chamber might need to be cleaned,’ the lawsuit said.
‘Hannah remembers shaking the sixth round to ensure herself that it was a dummy round.’
Baldwin, who served as the producer of the western, has also denied any responsibility
Baldwin was then handed the gun and in possession of it from 10am through 12:30pm, when the crew broke for lunch, the filing said.
It was stored until 1:30pm, when she cleaned Baldwin’s gun and inserted another round from the dummy box into it after shaking it to ensure it was not real, the claim said.
‘To the best of Hannah’s knowledge, the gun was now loaded with 6 dummy rounds,’ the claim said. ‘Indeed, Defendants as suppliers of prop ammunition to the Rust set, sold, distributed, and advertised its props as dummy ammunition and not live rounds.
‘Hannah relied upon and trusted that Defendants would only supply dummy prop ammunition, or blanks, and no live rounds were ever to be on set.’
She then delivered the gun to to set church and handed it to Halls, the assistant director, who said he’d be ‘sitting in’ with the gun.
The lawsuit claims Halls later handed the gun to Baldwin without calling on Gutierrez-Reed to inspect it a final time before use.
She said she was tending to her duties as a prop assistant.
‘Knowing that no gun scene was going on at that time according to Halls, and with awareness of COVID protocols and social distancing, Hannah then walked outside the church to prepare her fanny pack for scenes that afternoon and to do some of her prop duties,’ the lawsuit said.
‘Production was behind that day and Hannah was acutely aware of the need to attend to her prop duties as well, for scenes that afternoon.’
Gutierrez-Reed has also claimed she was not allowed in the church where Baldwin was practicing his scene with Hutchins due to COVID protocols
Authorities say Gutierrez-Reed should have checked the weapon in front of Baldwin to ensure there were no live rounds
The accidental discharge never would have happened if Halls had summoned Gutierrez-Reed to supervise, the court filing said.
Kenney allegedly texted Gutierrez-Reed after the tragedy and tried to persuade her to lay the blame on the film’s assistant director Halls
‘Had Hannah been called back in, she would have re-inspected the weapon, and every round again, and instructed Baldwin on safe gun practice with the cross draw, as was her standard practice on set and under circumstances where (1) Baldwin did not respond to Hannah’s request on October 15 to schedule cross draw training and (2) the gun had been out of her possession for 15 minutes.’
Dummy reloaded with live ammo – and stamped with the Starline Brass logo – were later discovered on set, according to a previously unearthed search warrant.
The lawsuit also claims that Kenney texted Gutierrez-Reed after the tragedy, and tried to convince her to help ‘implicate AD [assistant director] Halls.’
Said the text: ‘Had you partnered up with a truly professional AD, none of this would have happened.
‘That true professional would have supported your safe efforts. Instead you got David ”reckless” Halls.’
Added the lawsuit: ‘Seth suggested that AD Halls had essentially bullied Hannah and not allowed her to do her job safely. Seth stated that if she would shift blame to Halls, he would “have her back.”’
Kenney also texted her dad in an effort to try to convince claims made publicly by her lawyers that the shooting was an act of sabotage, the lawsuit said.
Alec Baldwins lawyers slammed the decision to charge him with involuntary manslaughter as a ‘terrible miscarriage of justice’
Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin filed his own lawsuit against Gutierrez-Reed, Halls, Kenney and Zachry in November.
He alleges negligence and seeks damages to be determined at trial for the ‘immense grief’ he endured.
The actor is now continuing to deny culpability for the fatal shooting.
In a statement on Thursday, his attorney said: ‘This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set.
‘He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.’
But Mary Carmack-Altwies, the First Judicial District Attorney in New Mexico, is standing firm.
In an interview after the announcement with CNN, she said Baldwin did pull the trigger – and that he ran a ‘fast and loose set’ that was plagued with safety issues.
‘There was such a lack of safety and safety standards on that set. There were live rounds on set, they were mixed in with dummy rounds.
‘Nobody was checking those or at least they weren’t checking them consistently,’ she said.
‘They somehow got loaded into a gun, handed off to Alec Baldwin, he didn’t check it, he didn’t do what he was supposed to do to make sure he was safe or make sure anyone else was safe.
‘He pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and he pulled the trigger,’ she said.’
She said a ‘totality of the circumstances’ led to the decision, adding: ‘This was a really fast and loose set. And that nobody was doing their job.’
While it may have been an accident, she said Baldwin ‘doesn’t get a free pass’ because he’s a star.
Mary Carmack-Altwies, the First Judicial District Attorney in New Mexico, is standing firm. She said in an interview with CNN today: ‘An actor doesn’t get free pass just because they’re an actor’ as she vowed to take the case to trial
The family of Halyna Hutchins (pictured) released a statement saying they support the charges
‘Just because it’s an accident doesn’t mean it’s not criminal. They didn’t mean to do it, they didn’t have the intent to kill, but it happened anyway and it happened because of more than mere negligence.
‘We’ve talked to many actors, a-list and otherwise, that have said they always check their guns or they have someone check it in front of them.
‘An actor doesn’t get free pass just because they’re an actor. Everyone’s equal under the law.’
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed also vowed to fight the charges.
In a statement, her attorneys said: ‘Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter.
‘These charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts.
‘We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.’
Prosecutors say they are confident with the decision. It was welcomed by Halyna’s family, who issued a statement through their attorney.
‘We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges of involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life.
‘Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law.
‘We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.’
In announcing the charges, special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said: ‘If any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple.’
Both Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin are now expected to appear for a virtual court hearing, after which a New Mexico judge will determine whether there is probable cause to move forward with the cases against them.