Prosecutors to Announce if Charges Will be Filed in Fatal `Rust' Shooting

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Prosecutors in New Mexico will announce Thursday whether any criminal charges will be filed in connection with the fatal shooting by actor Alec Baldwin of a cinematographer on the set of the film "Rust" near Santa Fe.

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb will make the announcement via a written statement expected to be released at 8 a.m. Thursday, California time, according to the D.A.'s office.

"Regardless of the District Attorney's decision, the announcement will be a solemn occasion, made in a manner keeping with the office's commitment to upholding the integrity of the judicial process and respecting the victim's family," said Heather Brewer, a spokesperson for the DA's office.

The announcement will be the culmination of a more than yearlong investigation into the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting death of Halyna Hutchins. She was shot by a bullet fired from a prop gun wielded by Baldwin while the actor and crew were working to set up filming positions on the set of the Western film.

Baldwin has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in connection with the shooting that killed the 42-year-old Hutchins and wounded the film's director, Joel Souza. The actor has insisted that he was told the gun he was handed was "cold," containing no live ammunition. He has also said that while he pulled back the hammer of the prop gun, he never pulled the trigger of the weapon, which discharged a live round.

The shooting has led to an array of lawsuits against the film's producers -- including Baldwin, and a series of countersuits.

Baldwin himself filed a lawsuit targeting the film's assistant director, David Halls, prop master Sarah Zachry and Seth Kenney and his company, PDQ Arm & Prop, which supplied prop weapons and ammunition to the production.

The film's script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, has sued Baldwin and other crew members, saying she suffered emotional distress due to her proximity to the shooting. She was standing next to Hutchins when the shot was fired.

Halls in turn sued Baldwin, Zachry, Kenney and the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

Attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed have also denied any wrongdoing on her part, even suggesting there may have been an intentional effort to "sabotage" the set by placing live ammunition in a box containing dummy rounds.

Hutchins' husband and son have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the film company, saying the production was plagued by safety issues, citing messages and emails circulated among crew members.

On the morning of Hutchins' death, "the safety dangers of the production had reached a crisis point," according to the 29-page suit. "The local camera crew members were so upset by the producers' utter disregard for ... safety that they protested the safety conditions by going on strike."

The lawsuit alleges that Baldwin and the film's producers had disregarded at least 15 "industry standards" for gun safety on film sets. The "totality of evidence is just overwhelming," attorney Brian Panish said.

Last year, the state of New Mexico announced a nearly $140,000 fine against the film's production company over the shooting. The state's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau determined firearm-safety procedures were not being followed on the set, and concluded that producers showed "plain indifference to employee safety."

"Our investigation found that this tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety," New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in a statement when the fine was announced. "This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe."

Sheriff's investigators determined that live ammunition was found on the set, mixed with blanks that are traditionally used in film production.

Hutchins' death led to industry-wide calls for improvements in on-set safety, particularly in regards to the use of firearms.

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