New Mexico prosecutors say they knew early on that they’d charge Alec Baldwin over the deadly on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins — as they also firmly dismissed his claim that he didn’t pull the trigger.
“We felt very confident that it was going to be a criminal case pretty close to the beginning, once we started looking at everything,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb told NBC News of the manslaughter charges announced Thursday.
She felt Baldwin, 64, was equally culpable as the gun experts on the New Mexico set because he was the producer of “Rust” and “an actor who’s probably starred in 40-plus gun movies.”
Yet “the gun was not checked by him or with the armorer, which is standard protocol,” she said of Baldwin’s “reckless” behavior in the October 2021 deadly shooting.
“He understands what the proper protocol is for safety, and he was just disregarding that,” Reeb maintained.
“He did all those things which ultimately resulted in Halyna Hutchins’ death,” she said of the 42-year-old mom.
While quickly deciding that the “30 Rock” star would face charges, that became clearer when key parts of Baldwin’s story appeared to unravel, the prosecutors said.
That included the long-held claim that assistant director Dave Halls — who will testify against Baldwin after reaching a plea deal — had given the all-clear by calling “cold gun,” the term to say it was safe without live bullets.
“When we really started looking at the case, it wasn’t obvious that he did say ‘cold gun,’” Reeb told NBC News, saying that they also “can’t even say for sure that [Halls] actually touched that firearm.”
Prosecutors were even firmer in dismissing Baldwin’s wild claim in his weepy ABC TV interview that he “didn’t pull the trigger.”
“That’s not true,” Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told NBC News firmly.
“We know that from the FBI lab report that gun would not have fired without the trigger having been pulled.”
Reeb also told the outlet that Baldwin “definitely pulled the trigger” while aiming the gun at Hutchins.
“It’s possible that he didn’t know he pulled the trigger, that it was sort of an unconscious decision,” Carmack-Altwies said.
“But we have videos of him where his hand was on the trigger, and we know from the FBI report that he pulled that trigger.”
While conceding that Baldwin was “not intentionally trying to hurt her,” it was still “reckless” and “more than mere negligence.”
“It was people acting recklessly, people not doing their jobs, violating all of the standards that we all have to follow if we have a gun in our hands.
“And so because of that, I would say this is not just an accident — this is a criminal accident,” she said.
Baldwin could potentially face up to five years in prison if convicted. However, Reeb stressed: “Prison is not necessarily the goal.”
“What I want is justice for Halyna Hutchins, and I want people to take responsibility and take accountability for what their actions or inactions led to. And that’s Halyna Hutchins’ death,” she said.
That is also true for Halls, who will testify against the star after reaching the plea deal likely to see him doing six months’ probation.
“He’s not out to get anyone — he’s going to testify to the truth,” his attorney, Lisa Torraco, told NBC News.
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, called the charges “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set,” Nikas said. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”
Jason Bowles, a lawyer for the film’s rookie armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed — who will face the same charges as Baldwin — also firmly denied she committed “involuntary manslaughter.”
The charges are a “result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts,” Bowles claimed Thursday.