Alec Baldwin criminal probe will continue despite settlement on Rust
Santa Fe, New Mexico - Nearly a year after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on the film set of Rust in an incident involving a prop gun fired by producer and actor Alec Baldwin in New Mexico, the Hutchins family and Baldwin reached an undisclosed settlement this week in the wrongful death lawsuit. Yet, the district attorney that her criminal review will proceed.
As part of the settlement, filming will resume next year on the low-budget western with the cinematographer’s husband as executive producer, according to a statement from Hutchins.
Joel Souza, the director injured alongside Halyna, will also return to the project, he said. The case will be dismissed as part of the settlement, which is still subject to court approval in New Mexico.
"I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame. All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident," Matthew Hutchins said in a statement Wednesday.
Nonetheless, the resumption of Rust is sure to be controversial, and the district attorney confirmed Wednesday that her criminal review will proceed.
Hutchins’ death sent shockwaves through the film industry, which is still grappling with how to respond. Hollywood has not seen a case like this since 2014, when Sarah Jones, a camera assistant, was killed during unauthorized filming on a train track in Georgia.
The settlement announcement comes days after Baldwin provided data from his cellphone to law enforcement investigators and as Santa Fe 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies considers whether to bring criminal charges in the case.
Rust lawsuits still pending as Alec Baldwin is still not in the clear
In a late August letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance, Carmack-Altwies asked for additional funding for her office to potentially pursue several high-profile prosecutions. The letter, which was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, said that she may prosecute up to four people, including Baldwin, who fired the weapon that killed Hutchins, leaving behind her husband, Matthew, and their 10-year-old son.
"The proposed settlement announced today in Matthew Hutchins’ wrongful death case against Rust movie producers, including Alec Baldwin, in the death of Halyna Hutchins will have no impact on District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis’ ongoing investigation or her ultimate decision whether to file criminal charges in the case," said Heather Brewer, a spokesperson for district attorney’s office.
"While civil suits are settled privately and often involve financial awards, criminal cases deal only in facts," Brewer added in a statement. "If the facts and evidence warrant criminal charges under New Mexico law, then charges will be brought. No one is above the law."
The criminal probe is separate from the civil lawsuit, which Hutchins’ family filed earlier this year. It was unclear Wednesday whether the undisclosed financial settlement will have any bearing on the outcome of any criminal case.
The settlement brings to a close just one prong of the fallout from the Rust tragedy. The production and Baldwin still face multiple lawsuits in Los Angeles and New Mexico.
"Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation," Baldwin wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. The star has denied wrongdoing or pulling the trigger.
Several other producers as well as the company Rust Productions were also defendants in the lawsuit.
Cover photo: Collage: SAM WASSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP & KENA BETANCUR / AFP