Ever since cinematographer Halyna Hutchins got fatally shot on the set of the movie "Rust" back in October, people have been wondering how much legal jeopardy Alec Baldwin — who was holding the gun — is currently facing. Baldwin told George Stephanopoulos in an ABC News interview that he never pulled the trigger, but an FBI forensic analysis released in August found the actor must have pulled the trigger for the gun to fire, per ABC News.
Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio, of Custodio & Dubey, told Nicki Swift that the FBI's findings spell potential criminal liability for Baldwin. Custodio said that because the "Rust" set seemed to be in a state of "chaos" when it came to the safe handling of weapons and ammo, Baldwin could be facing manslaughter charges. "He may be made an example of, which would result in filing some criminal charges against him," Custodio told Nicki Swift.
However, another Los Angeles attorney now tells Nicki Swift he thinks making a criminal case against Baldwin would be very difficult. "As far as the new information that Baldwin pulled the trigger, I don't think these new facts materially affect the criminal investigation," expert entertainment lawyer Tre Lovell says. "To demonstrate involuntary manslaughter, the state has to prove that Baldwin was either reckless or criminally negligent." So, what else did Lovell share?
According to Tre Lovell, founder of Los Angeles's Lovell Firm, it would be difficult for the state to prove that Alec Baldwin was "criminally negligent" in Halyna Hutchins' death, which requires a heightened standard of negligence than ordinary. "The facts known thus far are that he had no idea the gun was 'hot,' he was entitled to rely upon the armorer to check the gun and ensure it was safe, and absent knowing any other facts suggesting the gun would discharge a live bullet, pulling the trigger would have been customary and not negligent, let alone criminally negligent," Lovell explains to Nicki Swift.
Lovell also says that, even if Baldwin claims to never actually pull the trigger in his movies but he did in this one case, that "shouldn't affect the heightened standard of care applicable." Basically, this means that even if Baldwin did pull the trigger, this isn't unusual for an actor to do on set, and it was the prop armorer's job to ensure the gun was not loaded, not Baldwin's.
That said, it doesn't look like Baldwin is out of the legal woods yet. Back in April, Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza told NBC, "I don't think anybody is off the hook when it comes to criminal charges."