Alec Baldwin’s Code Red

alec baldwin
The prosecution argues that Baldwin acted recklessly, fully aware that he was handling a real weapon yet eschewing essential safety protocols, including the risk of live and dummy rounds being mixed together. Photo: Ross D. Franklin - Pool/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
July 9, 2024

It’s been nearly three years since the tragic shooting on the set of the Western film Rust, where a Colt .45 held by Alec Baldwin ended the life of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The ensuing criminal case has been rife with twists, starting with Baldwin’s perplexing interview with George Stephanopolous where he claimed to have not pulled the trigger. The charges of involuntary manslaughter were filed, then dropped amid a report of a modified gun, only to be surprisingly refiled earlier this year by an ambitious new prosecutor. With the trial finally kicking off in Santa Fe this week, the question facing the jury is straightforward: Did Baldwin fail to exercise due care by not checking the firearm for live rounds?

After the charges were renewed, SAG-AFTRA rallied to Baldwin’s defense, emphasizing that “an actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert.” Several witnesses echoed this defense during the April criminal trial of Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez, who was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison. And yet, despite attempts by Baldwin’s Alex Spiro-led A team at Quinn Emanuel to dismiss the charges, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer found enough evidence of Baldwin’s potential negligence to proceed to trial. The focus of the case has now coalesced around Baldwin’s mental state at the time of the incident.