Alec Baldwin pleaded not guilty Wednesday after a grand jury indicted him on involuntary manslaughter charges over the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of “Rust,” a western film he was producing and starring in.
The actor waived an arraignment, which was set to take place Thursday, in a court filing alongside his plea.
Baldwin was indicted earlier his month in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after a second set of prosecutors revived the case against him following the death of Halyna Hutchins on Oct. 21, 2021. The actor, who is also one of the producers of the film, was pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal on the New Mexico set when the firearm went off. The shot killed her and injured director Joel Souza.
Baldwin has maintained he did not pull the trigger and had been told the weapon was “cold,” meaning it should not have contained any live ammunition. He has said there were other crew members on set responsible for gun safety.
Alec Baldwin, shown here on Nov. 30 at the American Museum of Natural History’s gala in New York City, entered a plea of not guilty in court filings Wednesday and waived his arraignment.
SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors on set, released a statement after the latest indictment contending that an actor’s job is “not to be a firearms or weapons expert.”
“Firearms are provided for use on set under the guidance of multiple expert professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm,” the union said. “Performers train to perform, and they are not required or expected to be experts on guns or experienced in their use. The industry assigns that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee their use and handling in every aspect.”
Prosecutors initially charged the actor with involuntary manslaughter last year but dropped those charges. The recent indictment charges him with two separate counts of involuntary manslaughter, including one that accuses him of “total disregard or indifference for the safety of others.” He can only be convicted of one charge.
If convicted, Baldwin could face up to 18 months in prison. His attorneys have pushed for a quick trial to “minimize public vilification and suspicion” against the actor.
Halyna Hutchins was killed on Oct. 21, 2021, while Baldwin was rehearsing with a firearm on the set of "Rust" in New Mexico.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer of the film, has also been charged and will stand trial in February on an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Baldwin’s conditions of release include provisions that he not drink or possess a weapon. He is also not allowed to speak with any witnesses who could testify in the case, although he is allowed to do so if he solely speaks about the release of “Rust.”
The producers of “Rust” finished filming last year, describing the project as a tribute to Hutchins. Her husband, now an executive producer on “Rust,” has also supported a documentary about her life.