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Alec Baldwin Trial: Prosecutors Say Actor’s Recklessness Led to Cameraman’s Death

If found guilty, Alec Baldwin, 66, could face up to 18 months in prison. (Photo: Reuters)

Alec Baldwin, who denied pulling the trigger or knowing why the rifle had live ammunition, pleaded not guilty to one count of manslaughter.

Actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with fatally shooting Rust camerawoman Halyna Hutchins by prosecutors, who began presenting their case to a jury on Wednesday. In October 2021, Baldwin was carrying a prop gun during an important rehearsal when it fired a round, killing Hutchins and wounding the film’s director. Prosecutors allegedly portrayed him as a “headstrong” actor who often ignored his duties to ensure gun safety on set, while the defense argued the cameraman’s death was the result of negligence by other crew members.

According to Special Prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, who delivered her opening statement to the jury on July 10, the actor allegedly “violated basic firearm safety rules” multiple times and pulled the trigger, causing the firearm to discharge live ammunition, The Washington Post reports.

“When someone pretends to be carrying a real gun in a real workplace and playing with that gun violates basic firearm safety rules, people’s lives are at risk and people can get killed,” Ocampo was quoted as saying by CNN. She alleged that Baldwin constantly reloaded and pointed the gun at people on set, didn’t take the gun training seriously and “asked for the biggest gun available” for the Rust scene.

According to France 24, Ocampo stressed that actors must follow certain safety rules, including handling firearms as if they were loaded, never pointing handguns at another person and never pulling the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Ocampo further criticized him for neglecting to have his rifle inspected by gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed after she mistakenly loaded it with live ammunition. Variety quoted her as saying, “He pointed the weapon at another person, cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger, disregarding Ms. Hutchins’ safety.”

Meanwhile, defense attorney Alex Spiro said in his opening statement that Baldwin relied on Reed and first assistant director Dave Halls to ensure the gun was safe, and that it was not his responsibility to check it, Variety added.

After opening statements, the jury was shown footage from a police tailgate camera taken just after the incident, as Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza were being treated by medical personnel, according to the Washington Post. Hutchins, who was still alive at the time, was surrounded by multiple people in one tumultuous scene.

If found guilty, Baldwin, 66, could face up to 18 months in prison. Baldwin, who denied pulling the trigger or knowing why the rifle had live ammunition, pleaded not guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter. Baldwin’s trial began Wednesday, nearly three years after Hutchins was accidentally killed in a church building in Bonanza Creek Ranch in October 2021.