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New Mexico DA to decide on ‘Rust’ shooting charges

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SANTA FE, N.M.(NewsNation) — Prosecutors in New Mexico will announce Thursday whether criminal charges will be brought against anyone in the fatal shooting on the “Rust” movie set in 2021.

The decision from First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies will come nearly 16 months after a prop gun handled by actor Alec Baldwin discharged on set, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

The Santa Fe District Attorney will announce the decision, but prosecutors will not make a public appearance.

Baldwin maintains he never pulled the trigger, though a report from the FBI refuted that assertion. He called Hutchins’ death a “tragic accident,” saying he was told the gun was safe.

The medical examiner ruled the shooting an accident, and since then, there have been questions about the live ammo found on the set and complaints about poor working conditions.

Baldwin has pointed the blame at the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for overseeing weapons and ammunition on set. He said in a civil lawsuit that Gutierrez-Reed and other crew members acted negligently by handing him a loaded gun but announcing it was safe.

Also named in that lawsuit are David Halls, an assistant director, and Sarah Zachry, who Baldwin alleges “failed to disclose that Gutierrez-Reed had been acting recklessly off set.”

Baldwin’s narrative of that day is listed in what’s known as a cross-complaint in a lawsuit that was filed against him by Mamie Mitchell, who sued Baldwin and the production company for emotional distress. Gutierrez-Reed, Zachry and Halls are all listed as defendants in the original suit.

Baldwin’s attorneys assert he had no knowledge that the gun was loaded, and therefore shouldn’t be liable.

“In fact, (Gutierrez-Reed) told Baldwin that it was her job to check the gun — not his,” the suit alleges. “Similarly, Baldwin believed, based on prior gun safety training he received on move sets, that actors should not unliterally check guns for live ammunition.”

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’ve found no evidence of that.

Wednesday night on “Dan Abrams Live,Jennifer Burrill, president-elect of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said she expects the state will pursue involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin.

“I think it’s really unlikely that they would have asked for the $600,000 in funding if they didn’t think they had enough to go forward on that. I think just from the clip that you showed of Alec’s statement, I believe that’s the sheriff’s office, where that occurred. That’s enough on involuntary manslaughter,” Burrill said.

However, Burrill’s prediction is only speculation. Until the announcement, it is unknown if charges will be filed at all.

The district attorney said the announcement will be a solemn occasion.

NewsNation affiliate KRQE contributed to this report.

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