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Alec Baldwin To Be Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter Over Rust Set Shooting

The accidental, fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western "Rust" on October 21, 2021 dominated the news cycle for much of the tail end of the year. Though we don't read about it as much any more, this doesn't mean that the case has ended. On the contrary, it seems that the aftermath of the tragedy — which, let's face it, was always going to involve legal proceedings — is just kicking into high gear.

At the heart of the "Rust" tragedy is actor Alec Baldwin, who is the person who fired the supposedly harmless prop gun that killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. Baldwin has been filing lawsuits and naming names as of late, but recent reports indicate that the star is set to face a lawsuit of his own ... and not just any lawsuit, since it's just transpired that Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter over the "Rust" set shooting.

Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will face involuntary manslaughter charges

Though many involved in the "Rust" incident have accused each other for the tragedy, it appears that Alec Baldwin and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will be the two people New Mexico prosecutors will charge for involuntary manslaughter, as reported by CNN. Interestingly, one person that won't be charged is assistant director Dave Halls, who also handled the weapon. Halls has entered in a plea deal for a six-month probation sentence. 

With the news about charges they're pressing, the officials also released some important information about the state of the fatal prop gun. The official examinations have found that the cocked gun couldn't be fired without pulling the trigger, until a breakage during testing enabled such a misfire. While this calls into question Baldwin's earlier claims that he didn't pull the trigger, the report also revealed that chances for actual foul play are slim to none. 

"Review of available law enforcement reports showed no compelling demonstration that the firearm was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on set. Based on all available information, including the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death, the manner of death is best classified as accident," the report read. 

As the involuntary manslaughter charge implies, no one's suggesting that either Baldwin or Gutierrez were deliberately trying to harm anyone, so if anything, this lawsuit is just the newest layer in the pile-up of extreme misfortune that is the "Rust" incident. It remains to be seen whether Baldwin is found guilty, and how it — or, for that matter, the lawsuit itself — will affect his life and career. 

Lawyers on both sides react to the involuntary manslaughter charges

As you might assume, a case with this high a profile has prompted quick responses from the parties involved. Per Angenette Levy of Law & Crime Network (via Twitter), the Hutchins family's attorney Brian J. Panish released a statement that praised the officials' actions. Baldwin's camp has also commented on the recent developments, in a statement from the actor's lawyer Luke Nikas (via TMZ). 

"This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," the statement read. "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."

The legal aftermath of the "Rust" incident is still developing, and will likely do so for quite some time. Count on Looper to keep you informed as new information becomes available.