American justice has decided.

Alec Baldwin, author of a fatal shooting on the set of the film "Rust" in 2021, will be charged with manslaughter, announced a prosecutor Thursday.

The actor faces up to five years in prison if convicted of aggravated negligence.

The film's gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who handled the gun, is facing the same charge, Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement.

On October 21, 2021, this shooting on a ranch in New Mexico had turned tragic when Alec Baldwin had activated a weapon supposed to contain only blank bullets, but whose very real projectile had killed the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins , 42, and hurt the director;

Joel Souza.

This rare news item had shocked Hollywood and had a strong impact, triggering calls to ban firearms on the sets.

"After careful review of the evidence and the laws of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the 'Rust' film crew. "said Mary Carmack-Altwies.

"Under my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice."

The charges will be formally filed "by the end of the month", added the prosecutor.

"Criminal Contempt"

If convicted of simple manslaughter, Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed risk up to 18 months in prison.

But this sentence could be increased to up to five years in prison in the event of aggravated negligence.

The actor's lawyer, Luke Nikas, immediately denounced a "terrible miscarriage of justice".

"Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe that a live ammunition was in the gun, or anywhere else at the shooting location," he said.

Alec Baldwin, 64, best known for the series "30 Rock", has always said that he was assured that his weapon was harmless.

Executive assistant David Halls, who had given him the weapon informing him that it was not dangerous, pleaded guilty to negligence while using a deadly weapon.

Alec Baldwin also maintained that he did not pull the trigger, a claim questioned by experts.

"If any of these three people - Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls - had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would still be alive today. It's as simple as that," prosecutor Andrea said. Reeb, in charge of the case.

The evidence shows "a criminal disregard for security on the set of 'Rust'," she said in the statement.

On CNN, she then insisted on the amateurism of the production and the lightness of Alec Baldwin on the set.

The actor "didn't do any of the things he was supposed to do to make sure he was safe or anyone around him was safe," the prosecutor said.

"Then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and pulled the trigger."

Financial agreement with the family

The police investigation focused in particular on determining how live ammunition could have been found on the set, which is in theory strictly prohibited, precisely to avoid accidents.

Officers concluded that the shooting gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, put the ammunition in the gun used by Alec Baldwin, instead of a dummy bullet.

The gunsmith's lawyers for their part denounced "a sloppy investigation and an inaccurate understanding of the facts" by the prosecution.

"We intend to bring the truth to light and believe that Hannah will be cleared of wrongdoing by a jury."

In August, the actor said he expected no one to be charged, telling CNN that he had hired a private detective to establish responsibilities in the case.

The drama gave rise to a volley of civil lawsuits, emanating from several members of the team.

In October, Alec Baldwin announced that he had reached an agreement ending the civil lawsuits brought by the family of Halyna Hutchins.

Its amount was not disclosed.

At the time, filming of "Rust" was also announced to resume for early 2023. The late cinematographer's widower, Matthew Hutchins, is to be promoted to executive producer on the film.

With AFP

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